You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner {ARC Review}

I received this ARC from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinion.

25701463When 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.

In 2016, I became interested in a musical called Spring Awakening. It is a rock-musical based in 1800s Germany. A few months ago, I discovered Spring Awakening had a second run on Broadway. The second production was different because of this: a majority of the cast was deaf. The production was put on by the Deaf West Theatre in LA. As soon as I saw the Deaf West production of it, I became interested in sign language. I was fascinated that this language is entirely spoken by hand movements. I’m slowly trying to learn it now (I can say my name is Olivia and how are you woohoo).
I then began my research to find Young Adult books with a hearing impaired main character. I sent a request to Penguin Randomhouse and received an ARC.
I was really excited to finally read a book with deaf representation. With that being said, I think my expectations for You’re Welcome, Universe were a bit too high. The book was definitely good–don’t get me wrong. It just didn’t live up to the hype I felt. I really expected to be BLOWN AWAY, but I sadly didn’t feel that way.
Firstly, let’s talk about the diversity in You’re Welcome, Universe. We have an Indian-American teen, who is deaf, with two moms who are also deaf. Julia’s deafness was *what I believe to be* very accurate. In many other books/movies/TV shows, it depicts that there is no communication barrier between a deaf person and a hearing person. However, that is definitely not the case. Many deaf individuals can’t lipread very well, and most hearing individuals only know minimal sign language. It was very interesting reading a story like this in a deaf person’s POV.
Within the book, there are many pages with spray-paint artwork. I really admired this extra feature on the book, especially that it fit really well with the story. Julie is a graffiti artist which was really cool because I’ve never seen someone with that interest in a YA novel.
This book was not perfect. That’s quite an obvious statement because no book is truly perfect. In particular, I wasn’t super in love with the writing style. It felt very blatant; I just really wasn’t a fan. Also, the characters didn’t really grip me like I wish they would. The characters weren’t very unique. They were pretty ‘black and white stereotypical high school’ personalities.
With all that being said, I’m still really glad I read You’re Welcome, Universe. I really enjoyed the different areas of diversity within this novel.

So, what do I rate You’re Welcome, Universe?

★★★★/5 Stars

 

Have you purchased/read You’re Welcome, Universe yet?

-Liv

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SST: Interview with Laura Silverman (Author of Girl Out of Water)

Hello everyone! As a part of the Sunday Street Team, I’m one of the stops for a blog tour featuring Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman. I am BEYOND excited about this. Without too much delay, let’s get to the interview with Laura!

1) Hi Laura! Before we begin, can you talk about Girl Out of Water and what it is about?

Hi Liv! It’s about a California surfer girl who has to spend the entire summer in landlocked Nebraska. There’s family, romance, summer vibes, and probably way too many descriptions of food

2) Talk about your writing life: have you always wanted to be a writer?

I have! I’ve been writing stories since I could write, and I took creative writing courses in high school and college. I thought it was something I would work at for a long time and maybe one day in the far-off future I’d get published, but I decided to go to graduate school for creative writing, fully dedicated myself to the work, and before I knew it I was signing with an agent for my first novel!

3) What is your writing process like? Do you outline before or just dive into the story?

I definitely tend towards diving. I outline a little bit, especially as I get into later drafts and the structure becomes more important, but I let my characters drive the car pretty often

4) You’re very open with your chronic illness on social media: how do you think your chronic pain has influenced your writing life?

It limits it – I used to be able to write seven to eight hours a day, and that just isn’t possible right now. But I’m very grateful I have a passion and a job with flexible hours, so it’s challenging, but I’m making it work!

5) Have you always enjoyed books?

Yes, yes, yes! I’ve genre-hopped back and forth a bit over the years, but I’ve always loved reading and can’t see that ever changing

6) What was your favorite book as a child?

As a kid I loved Harry Potter, Matilda, Coraline, Anne Frank’s Diary, etc. The list of course goes on and on!

7) What are some of your other favorite Young Adult books (besides your own)?

I can never pick favorite books overall but some recent favorite reads are THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED, THE HATE U GIVE, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI, and UNDER ROSE-TAINTED SKIES.

8) Would you like to talk about any upcoming projects you have? How are they similar (or different) to Girl Out of Water?

I recently sold my second book – it’s also a YA contemporary, but it’s pretty different. My main character, Ariel, deals with academic pressure and examining his Jewish identity. Though – both books do have swoony romances

 

Thanks again, Laura, for your wonderful responses. It was such a pleasure being able to interview you on my blog!

Preorder Girl Out of Water 

Fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen will fall in love this contemporary debut about finding yourself-and finding love-in unexpected places.

Ocean breeze in her hair and sand between her toes, Anise can’t wait to spend the summer before her senior year surfing and hanging out on the beach with friends. Santa Cruz is more than her home-it’s her heart. But when her aunt, a single mother, is in a serious car accident, Anise must say goodbye to California to help care for her three young cousins.

Landlocked Nebraska is the last place Anise wants to be. Sure, she loves her family, but it’s hard to put her past behind her when she’s living in the childhood house of the mother who abandoned her. And with every Instagram post, her friends back home feel further away.

Then she meets Lincoln, a charismatic, one-armed skater who challenges her to swap her surfboard for a skateboard. Because sometimes the only way to find your footing is to let go.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29640839-girl-out-of-water

Preorder Links:

Amazon- US:  http://amzn.to/2nMpDV1

Amazon – UK: http://amzn.to/2ohyxh6

Barnes & Nobles: http://bit.ly/2ohJC1x

Book Depository: http://bit.ly/2oaYo9S

Girl Out of Water Giveaway

A Rafflecopter giveaway

About The Author

Laura received her MFA in writing for children from the New School. She loves books and dogs—okay, and quite a few people too. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. You can say hello on Twitter at @LJSilverman1.

Follow Her On Social Media:

Blog: http://laurasilvermanlovesbooks.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LJSilverman1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15148197.Laura_Silverman

Tour Schedule

4/16

Interview – Pretty Deadly Blog

Review –  Sarcasm and Lemons

Interview –  Curly Hair Bibliophile

Interview – Hopeful Reads

Mood board & Review – Here’s to Happy Endings

Review –  Book Nerd Addicts

4/23

Review – Fafa’s Book Corner

Interview – Books, TV, and More…Oh My!

Aesthetics Post – Roecker Reviews

Review – Next Page Please

Interview – Awkwordly Emma

Review – A Thousand Words A Million Books

4/30

Review – Books and Ladders

Graphics Inspired Quotes –  The Cozy Little Book Nook

Interview –  Tattooed Pages  

Review –  Crazy for YA

 

Are you excited to read Girl Out of Water? Did you enjoy the interview?

-Liv

 

I Will Not Be Watching 13 Reasons Why and Here’s Why…{Discussion Post}

Trigger Warning: In the post, there is talk about self harm, suicide, and rape. Please use precaution before continuing.

Right now, it seems like I can’t go ten minutes without seeing something about 13 Reasons Why. Even boys in my journalism class were raving about it. However, I felt quite uneasy about the show from the beginning. The day after it was released, I saw a post on Twitter with all the triggers for each episode.

*These Pictures Are Not My Own I Just Had Them Saved to My Laptop, and I Can’t Find The Original Tweet*. 

I read 13 Reasons Why when I was in eighth grade. I must admit that I understand a good amount of the book. Looking back, though, I’m starting to realize how much I either lost from my memory over time or what went right over my head. Regardless, I was still really impacted by the novel. For this reason, I was quite excited about the adaption to a Netflix series.

Now that you know my history with the book, I’d like to take a minute to examine some information about suicide and entertainment.

  • “Prominent placement and undue repetition of stories about suicide are more likely to lead to imitative behaviors than more subtle presentations.”
  • “Detailed discussion of the method used in a given completed or attempted suicide should be avoided, because a step-by-step description may prompt vulnerable people to copy the act. For example, in reporting an overdose, it would be unwise to detail the nature, quantity, or combination of drugs taken, or how they were procured.”

Yes, 13 Reasons Why is an important story. Suicide is a topic that needs to be talked about; we need to be able to have discussions about it and give people the help they need. Suicide is one of the top five causes of death for teens between the ages of 15-19. It needs to be discussed.

However, having a T.V. show where graphic scenes are showed on screen can be incredibly harmful. They can trigger people who have had past experiences with self-harm and suicide. They can encourage people who struggle with it to continue with their harmful habits.

“BUT,” they say. “IT’S MADE SO MANY PEOPLE AWARE OF THEIR ACTIONS AND ALERTED PEOPLE TO SUICIDE AWARENESS!!!”

Not to play devil’s advocate, but it is true that shows that have themes of suicide and mental health can cause people to become more aware of it in their daily lives. However, I’ve noticed that this awareness is short-lived. It will last for a little bit, but it won’t has a lasting impact like we wish it would. Eventually, people will forget. New forms of entertainment will be the latest trend, and 13 Reasons Why will be left in the dust along with its intended message.

One argument in favor of the graphic nature of the show is this: in the beginning of the very graphic episodes, there are disclaimers. Here’s the thing: whether or not you put disclaimers at the beginning of the episodes doesn’t really make up for the fact that you are unknowingly helping people do the very thing you’re trying to raise awareness for. Not to mention, numerous psychologists repeat that showing a step-by-step process to self harm or suicide will do more harm than good.

A few days ago, my best friend’s boyfriend remarked: “I just feel like they treat Hannah [the main character] like she’s a college student. She’s a sophomore. Stuff like that doesn’t happen to sophomores.” Newsflash: Things like that do happen to people even younger than sophomores. Rape can happen to anyone. No matter how old they are. Self harm and suicide can affect anyone no matter their age. The themes of 13 Reasons Why are definitely not for the faint hearted. However, the story does need to be told. I do not believe that the adaption of 13 Reasons Why gives the subject matters justice. For that reason, I will not be watching 13 Reasons Why. If you choose to watch it, please take caution before doing so.

 

If you or anyone you know is affected by suicide or suicidal thoughts, please reach out. Here are hotlines and websites you can reach out to:

  • https://www.7cups.com/
  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “Start” to 741-741
  • Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386.

 

Sources

 

Leave your opinions/comments about 13 Reasons Why in the comments!
-Liv

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli {ARC Review}

I received this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinion.


5139zwihtyl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

I genuinely believe that Becky Albertalli is the queen of YA contemporary. I’m serious. Fun Fact: I have never read a Becky Albertalli book. After reading The Upside of Unrequited, I know I need to quickly change that. I was waiting for the release date to read this book, until I checked my email and found an email from HaperCollins with a link to download from Edelweiss. You can imagine my excitement as I downloaded it.

Let’s discuss one of the many qualities of this book: diversity. This book intertwines diversity so flawlessly within the book. There was representation for both LGBTQ+  and PoC. It is very evident that Becky used sensitivity readers throughout this book (she also includes them in her acknowledgements).

The protagonist, Molly, is one of my favorite characters of all time. She’s a fat, Jewish, Pinterest-Queen, seventeen year old teenager. It’s quite common for fat girls to be comic relief in movies, books, TV shows, etc. Yes, Molly was hilarious, but not because of her weight. In fact, there is even a scene where she is told that she is told that she’s “gorgeous for a big girl”. Molly’s narrative definitely tells the truth that big girls can love and be loved too. It’s pretty sad that, in 2017, this is a truth that needs to still be taught.

The writing style is also something I would like to note. Becky’s writing style is one of the best I’ve seen in the YA community. It grabs you from the beginning and will not let go until you’re done. Even once you’re done, you want more. All the characters were perfectly imperfect. They were all far from perfect which made it absolutely perfect.

I really wish everyone could read Upside of Unrequited. Even if you are not normally a fan of contemporary, I’m certain you will still enjoy it.  The overall story felt like a warm hug. I really can’t form my thoughts into words; I’m so in love with The Upside of Unrequited. This book is a definite must-read.

So, what do I rate The Upside of Unrequited?

★★★★★/5 Stars

Have you read The Upside of Unrequited yet? If not, is it on your TBR?

-Liv

March Wrap-Up

Another month of 2017 has come and gone! Man, I feel like this year is kind of flying by. At the same time, it feels like it’s never ending. Either way, I read five books this month. I had a very busy month, and I’m excited to see what April has in store for me. Let’s get into the wrap-up!

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Books I Read in The Month of March

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas ★★★★★/5 [Review]
  • Hear The Wolves by Victoria Scott ★★★/5 [Review]
  • The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig ★★★★/5
  • Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook ★★★★/5
  • Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli ★★★★★/5

What Did I Do In The Month of March?

  • I bought a lot of books (yikes).
  • I attended the North Texas Teen Book Festival. (It was so much fun).
  • I had Spring Break! It was nice to have a week off from school. I went to Pennsylvania for a few days.
  • I finished Driver’s Training! I sadly can’t get my permit due to some rules Oklahoma has about transfer students, but I’m working towards it.
  • I had Regionals for Speech! I didn’t break through to State, but I’m really happy with how I did.

What’s In-Store for April? 

  • I’m seeing Kinky Boots on April 2nd with my best friends.
  • I’m meeting Becky Albertalli at a book signing.
  • I’m participating in #AVAreadathon!
  • I’m seeing The 1975 in concert with my brother.

What (Might) I Be Reading in April?

What did you do in the month of March? How many books did you read?

-Liv