You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!

Alex Gino

You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!
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You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P!

Alex Gino

Jilly thinks she’s figured out how life works. But when her sister, Emma, is born deaf, she realises how much she still has to learn. The world is going to treat Jilly, who is white and hearing, differently from Emma, just as it will treat them both differently from their Black cousins.   

A big fantasy reader, Jilly makes a connection online with another fantasy fan, Derek, who is a Deaf, Black ASL user. She goes to Derek for help with Emma but doesn’t always know the best way or time to ask for it. As she and Derek meet in person, have some really fun conversations, and become friends, Jilly makes some mistakes… but comes to understand that it’s up to her, not Derek, to figure out how to do better next time, especially when she wants to be there for Derek the most.   

Within a world where kids like Derek and Emma aren’t assured the same freedom or safety as kids like Jilly, Jilly is starting to learn all the things she doesn’t know and by doing that, she’s also working to discover how to support her family and her friends.

Review

Alex Gino’s debut novel, George, about a young transgender child is an award-winning and beloved story that we regularly recommend at Readings. Their new novel for middle fiction readers covers disability and racism with compassion and an equally engaging story.

Twelve-year-old Jilly’s baby sister has just been born deaf and her parents are upset and confused. Jilly has an online friend who is proudly Black and Deaf and she seeks his advice to help her understand how to help her sister, but he doesn’t enjoy being stereotyped. Jilly also has an auntie who is Black and two cousins who are half-Black. She observes and worries about the racism they and other Black people experience both within her primarily white family as well as the outer community. Jilly bravely faces these big issues, asks questions, calls out family members, sometimes gets it wrong and learns from her mistakes. She’s a very real, uplifting and likeable character.

In a powerful author’s note Gino explains their motivation was to provide a tool for young white people to talk about these vital issues. This is important writing for young readers that is also highly enjoyable for ages 10+.


Angela Crocombe is the shop manager at Readings Kids.

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