You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner is so unique - the main character is an Indian Deaf teen, and she has two moms. There are so many elements of diversity, but all are handled beautifully, and never seem over the top or constructed just to be contemporary or dramatic. The story itself is really compelling. Julia is a graffiti artist and gets kicked out of her exclusively Deaf school for covering graffiti that ruined her friend’s reputation, but that doesn’t stop her tagging places around town. It actually pushes her to be more and more creative with her art – especially when a rival artist starts adding to her work, and those are additions what make people talk. Julia wants her art to stand as it is, but this artist keeps one-upping her. Adding to her stress is having a new interpreter at a mainstream school and trying to fit in, keep up with the work, and make friends.
The book includes examples of “her” work, and it really rounds out the story. It’s not exactly an illustrated novel, but the graffiti is peppered into the book and fleshes out the story.
You're Welcome, Universe won the Schneider Family Book Award at the 2018 Youth Media Awards. I watched them as a webcast and had a browser window open to my library's site, putting award winners on hold as they were announced! So many great YA books out there today, and so many are winning these great awards!
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