Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
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. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6-Gino offers a heartfelt and needed story about white privilege, intent vs. impact, and respecting cultural differences. Jilly Pirillo, a white 12-year-old girl, spends a good deal of time on the De La Court website, a fan fiction site based on her favorite book series. When Jilly learns that her new baby sister, Emma, is Deaf, she immediately thinks of her online friend "profoundinoaktown" (real name Derek), the only other Deaf person she knows. When she excitedly shares the news with him, she's initially disappointed when he seems annoyed and offended ("I didn't realize it was rude to tell him that Emma is Deaf. And I'm still not sure I understand why."). As she gets to know Derek better and begins to learn more about his experiences as a black Deaf boy, she's also witnessing her own family's reckoning with racism. Her Aunt Alicia, a black woman married to her Aunt Joanne, regularly experiences snide comments and assumptions by white family members. Jilly begins to take notice for the first time, slowing seeing how these "microaggressions" are related to recent news reports about black teens being shot by police. Her parents are also in the process of investigating speech therapy and cochlear implants for Emma. Jilly becomes increasingly aware of the very real challenges and dangers faced by people of color and members of the Deaf community-and slowly understands how these oppressive forces can intersect. In her attempts to help, seek advice, and advocate for what she believes is right, Jilly often stumbles and makes mistakes, unintentionally causing offense. Rather than shut down and tune out, Jilly listens and tries again, taking responsibility for her words and actions, and doing better once she knows better. VERDICT Gino's sophomore effort is every bit as affecting and important as their first novel, George. Jilly is a realistic role model, particularly for young white readers, on how to listen with an open heart, build authentic friendships, and use one's privilege for good.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gino's (George, 2015) sophomore novel opens up a discussion about racism and Deaf culture. Jilly's baby sister, Emma, is born deaf at the beginning of the novel, and the narrative follows her family's journey in acclimating to Emma and Deaf culture. For advice, and because she has a crush on him, Jilly turns to her online friend Derek, who is Deaf and Black. This book presents big, relevant issues in a way for young readers to relate to and understand. The author's note states that it was consciously written for white people as a catalyst to talk about modern racism and police violence in the United States, as well as to prompt awareness of white privilege and marginalization. Adults can also read the book, as it models a way for them to speak to children about these issues. The story gets lost in the obvious agenda, though, and the plot seems lacking as a result. But Jilly is an endearing character to follow as she questions and learns about life through those she loves.--Florence Simmons Copyright 2018 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Gino's second middle-grade novel shows a well-meaning white girl stumbling through difficult issues with compassion.Twelve-year-old Jilly has a lot going on. She's crushing on Profound, a Deaf black boy she meets in a chat room dedicated to her favorite fantasy series. Her newborn sister might be deaf. Her white parents gloss over news reports of unarmed black youth killed by police, but her aunt Alicia, a black woman married to Jilly's mom's sister, encourages Jilly to not ignore racism. Jilly wants to do the right thing, but that's harder than she realizes. She's excited to talk to Profound about her sister, but he doesn't like being reduced to only one of his identities. She learns to confront microaggressions at family holidays. She wants her parents to embrace having a deaf child but doesn't realize that Deaf culture and identity are more than just learning a few signs. Gino tackles all this and much more with grace, clarity, and thoughtfulness. There are occasional hiccups in the flow and awkward moments, but readers learn a lot along with Jilly and her mistakes in this engrossing and satisfying read. Gino describes their intention in an author's note: "this book is consciously written for white people as a catalyst to talk about modern racism and police violence in the United States" and to teach them "about their privilege and how to support marginalized people in their lives."A necessary and rewarding addition to any middle-grade collection. (Fiction. 8-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.