You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!
Alex Gino. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-545-95624-6
Twelve-year-old Jilly may know everything there is to know about the characters of Magically Mysterious Vidalia, her favorite book trilogy, but she has a lot to learn about people and dynamics in her own world. In a novel that carries a strong social message, Gino (George) traces the stages of Jilly’s enlightenment across multiple events. As Jilly becomes aware of racially charged microaggressions occurring within her family, and a number of police shootings target black teens, she finds her white parents unwilling to discuss either. Her growing friendship with a black, Deaf boy she meets online (“Big-D Deaf is about community and ASL,” he informs her) aligns temporally with the discovery that her infant sister has a hearing impairment, but she makes mistakes in her enthusiasm to learn about Deaf culture. For the first time, Jilly comes to recognize that people face different challenges—and sees how her own actions can impact situations for better and for worse. If the book’s dialogue sometimes seems to exist in the service of its lessons, its thoughtful handling of characters and dynamics offers fodder for further discussion about privilege in all its forms. As Jilly’s Aunt Alicia says, “Nothing changes if we don’t talk.” Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.) [/em]
Reviewed on: 07/23/2018