Wednesday, November 14, 2018

You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P.

Gino, Alex. You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P. 
September 25th 2018 by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Jilly's is very excited when her mother finally has her baby sister, Emma, who is adorable, even if she cries a lot. When it turns out that Emma may have some issues with her hearing, it's good that Jilly has a close knit extended family that includes her Aunt Joanne, Joanne's African American wife, Aunt Alicia, and her children Justin and Jamila. She also has a support network in a chat community for the Magically Mysterious Vidalia trilogy, a fantasy series she really likes. One of the other members of the group, Profound, is deaf. He is very politically aware of issues facing the Deaf community as well as the African American community, and often brings Jilly to task when she makes comments that are offensive, even if she doesn't mean them to be. Jilly's parents are not entirely sure how they should proceed with Emma, because they are getting conflicting opinions from the medical professionals they consult. One says they shouldn't even encourage Emma to wave, although some think starting sign language is a good thing. They do have her fitted with hearing aids, and attend an event with families with deaf members in order to learn more. Profound, whose real name is Derek, has invited Jilly to come to the event, and she's glad to meet him in person. It's helpful to her family to learn more, and Derek and Jilly continue to chat online. Thanksgiving and Christmas are difficult for Jilly, because the rest of her extended family are not as welcoming of Joanne and Alicia's family. It doesn't help that there are many incidents in the news about racism, including some that hit very close to home. Jilly must confront her own privilege and speak out when she hears unjust comments, knowing that Emma may face some issues of her own.
Strengths: Gino's notes in the back of the book are very helpful, and indicate that while she is not herself deaf, she was raised by deaf parents and has learned sign language. My students are invariably fascinated by sign language but don't really know anything about the Deaf community, so this is a good way to raise their sensitivity. Cochlear implants are discussed at length; I had a student a few years ago who had those as well as an interpreter in class, and this would have been a helpful book to have had.There are other timely social issues as well, and Jilly's warm and supportive immediate family are lovingly portrayed. The online romance is conducted within the bounds of safety, and it's interesting to see how the connection changes when the children meet in person. The cover is very bright and attractive, and does show Derek's hearing aid. How much they have changed since the days of Cece Bell's El Deafo!
Weaknesses: It didn't seem quite realistic to me that there was so much tension at the holiday meals, but every family is different. Even my own Uncle Mike is able to reign himself in during brief dinners with my family, which has a variety of different groups represented. Also, the mother baked pies on the day of the holiday to take traveling. I can't say I've even had time to do that!
What I really think: Gino states (and this is from the E ARC)  that "books and stories are tools for talking about contemporary issues", and this would certainly be helpful in addressing several different ones.
Ms. Yingling

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