Monday, July 30, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino

You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino. 247 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc. September 25, 2018. 9780545956269. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Jilly is a seventh grader with a bff, involved parents and a baby sister on the way. She's also a huge fantasy fan and belongs to a fan site for her favorite fantasy series. She has some online friends there but is particularly drawn to Derek, aka "profoundinoaktown," who is black and deaf. She's bright and fairly opinionated. Derek challenges her assumptions as does her aunt Alicia, a black woman who is married to her mother's sister. When it appears her baby sister, Emma is deaf, Jilly turns to Derek with questions. Both Derek and Alicia enlighten Jilly about microagressions they each experience. 

This book, Alex Gino's sophomore effort, has a lesson or two to teach and it feels like it, especially at the beginning. That said, they are very important lessons - about white privilege, microaggressions, racism, ableism and assumptions. Jilly P. owns her mistakes and bravely confronts the racism that exists in her extended family. She also eventually chides her not-racist parents for not talking about racism. There's warmth and humor to soften the tougher parts of the book. This is a brave, important book that would help adults start conversations with the young people they care about. Thoughtful adults and young people will identify their own privilege and hopefully work to change minds and raise consciousnesses.

Though You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! and George are stand-alone novels, their covers share certain design similarities. I love both covers. 

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