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Review: You're Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

Title: You're Welcome Universe
Author: Whitney Gardner
Year Published: 2017

Genre: YA Fiction (winner of the ALA Schneider Family Award for teens living with disabilities)
Pages: 293
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (OR?)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across a wall at the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural in an attempt to protect her friend's reputation.

But then Julia's (supposed) friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her moms send her to a "mainstream" school, where she's treated like an outcast as the only deaf student.

Julia's only outlet is her art. She paints anywhere she can. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off. Caught in a graffiti war, Julia must risk arrest to go toe to toe with her rival... or face losing the only piece of her identity that still makes sense.

Review: An award-winner with graffiti, a teen with a "disability," LGBTQ+ characters, and friend betrayal? Sign me up. It feels good that I am finally getting to read another of the ALA award winners.

I can see why this book won the Schneider Award. Julia is a great character who happens to be Deaf (she chooses a capital D). Julia loves being Deaf even though it determines her life, her interactions with people, what she understands and doesn't, and how she responds to life's experiences. The secondary characters really show the range of how other people deal with Deaf people: they are curious and rude, they ignore her, they learn to sign and yell at her, they are patient and angry. I really feel like the reader gets a sense of what it is like to live in a hearing world.

Julia is sixteen-years-old and that also ties into a lot of her experiences. She is moody, angry, embraces life, feels betrayed, has crushes, laughs and cries. It very realistic. And the art / graffiti aspect is totally great.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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