Today we're excited to hear from Whitney Gardner, author
of You're Welcome, Universe!
Below you'll find more about Whitney,
her book, plus a giveaway!
“It wasn’t really a big deal or anything.”
I was sitting, completely enthralled, in my high school art class. My friend was telling me about the time he went out and spray painted his tag on a wall near a Long Island Rail Road stop. How he chose green and orange paint because they were the cheapest colors, but also the ugliest together. He talked about anarchy and art and how he wanted to embrace the discord. He was overly nonchalant about the whole thing, acting like it was easy. The story was so fantastic I almost didn’t believe him, but the next time I took the LIRR into the city, there it was: the word BEANZ written in big bubble letters.
When I decided to write YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE I knew I wanted to write a book for the teen version of myself. A book about a girl who doesn't quite fit in, and blazes her own trail. About friendship and loneliness. Most importantly, it had to be about art. It wasn't enough to have my main character create her masterpieces on paper. She deserved something bigger, something more bad-ass. And that’s when I remembered that day in art class. And how jealous I was of my friend. That I wanted to be as brave and bold as he was. After deciding to make my main character a graffiti artist, the rest of the story unlocked.
I immersed myself in graffiti culture while writing the book. Joining street art forums, testing out the different ways to buy spray paint. But I’d rather not disclose what I did with said paint once I bought it for... reasons. The more I learned the more excited I got. I wrote other books before YOU’RE WELCOME, UNIVERSE, but this was the first time I felt like I had found my voice. My story.
When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.
Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.
Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. 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—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.
Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.
By: Whitney Gardner
Release Date: March 7, 2017