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)