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Review #187 // You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! – Alex Gino

You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!

When Jilly’s baby sister is born Deaf, Jilly soon realizes that she needs to learn ASL if she wants to communicate with her sister when she grows up. Jilly’s friend from online happens to be Deaf as well, and as they get to know each other, Jilly also learns about the Deaf community in her hometown.


Why this book?: I loved Alex Gino’s George.

I would like to thank Miss Print and her ARC Adoption Program for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! was hard to get into at first. I wasn’t used to the writing at first, mainly because it had been over a year since I had read George. It was simplified, almost too much so, but you quickly get used to it. I was also really unsure with Jilly, mainly because she was a white, hearing girl and didn’t have anything to do with the stories involved; specifically the stories on Deafness and being black in today’s society. In addition to that, Alex Gino is neither of those things. With George, Alex Gino is own voices, so I was more comfortable with that.

Just as in George, Alex creates characters you fall in love with, even if it takes a bit to get to know them. When Jilly’s sister Emma is finally born, and you get to know all of the characters, you just keep reading without realizing how far you actually got. I was nearly done with the book before I realized it was two in the morning and I had to wake up early the next day.

While I should have expected this, Jilly P! actually deals with some pretty intense topics. Not only does it go into the Deaf community, but it also deals with some racism and police brutality. A black Deaf girl is murdered by the police in this book, and while it came to me as a shock, it ended up being an important plot point and was the starting point for some great character development …. for a white character. I can’t say much on that, but as I type this I feel weird. A black Deaf girl died by police, and it was mainly used to create character development for a white person. While it was expertly done, and while Jilly did learn how to deal with racism and how to interact with the Deaf community, Gino did it in a way that is wrong.

Let me explain it this way: This black Deaf girl was created solely for her to die by police. And this girl was created solely for Jilly, a white hearing girl, to learn about racism and police violence. There were thousands of other ways for Gino to do this, but instead they decided to use something that’s a problem in today’s society, and they did it…badly.

Besides that, I otherwise enjoyed the book. I was really unsure, because Gino wasn’t Deaf, nor are they black, so they were writing completely out of their own lane. While I enjoyed some parts of what Gino did, ultimately I can’t say anything, but they shouldn’t have either.

Final Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall

At first, I really enjoyed it. But as I considered it more after finishing, I knew that certain parts of the narrative was wrong. Alex Gino used SRs, and they say that in their author’s note, but that still doesn’t discount the harm that the narrative could cause. While I enjoyed parts, overall, I’m just really unsure.

Would I Recommend?

On a case by case basis, maybe. I don’t know how well the rep went, but I did enjoy the fact that there were same-gender parents featured, as well as diverse characters more than black and Deaf.


Additional Information:

Published: September 25th, 2018

Publisher: Scholastic

Page Count: 256

Genre: Middle Grade/LGBT

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Jilly thinks she’s figured out how life works. But when her sister Emma is born Deaf, she realizes how much she still has to learn.

A big fantasy reader, Jilly connects with another fan, Derek, who is a Deaf Black ASL user. She goes to Derek for advice but doesn’t always know the best way to ask for it and makes some mistakes along the way. Jilly has to step back to learn to be an ally, a sister, and a friend, understanding that life works in different ways for different people, and that being open to change can make you change in the best possible ways.


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