Published by Scholastic Press
Summary: Jillian is excited to be getting a new baby sister, and when Emma is born, the family is thrilled. But tests reveal that she has hearing loss, and Jillian’s parents have some difficult decisions to make about their new daughter. Jillian turns to a friend from a tween fantasy online forum, a boy named Derek who is Deaf. He introduces her to the Deaf community, answers her questions, and straightens out some of her misconceptions. He is also Black, as is Jillian’s aunt, and Jillian finds she has a lot to learn from both of them about racism. When one of Derek’s friends, a Deaf Black girl is shot and killed by police for not stopping when she is out for a run (she couldn’t hear their shouts), Jillian realizes she still has a lot to learn about how the world around her works. The story concludes with three chapters: nine months later, three months after that, and three years after that, to show the reader how Jillian’s family has changed and grown as Emma has grown up. 256 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: This book fills a need for stories of Deaf kids and their families; I learned quite a lot about cochlear implants, American Sign Language and the Deaf community (including the capitalization of the word Deaf, a convention from the book I am continuing in this review, as well as capitalizing Black). There were also a lot of thought-provoking conversations and situations about race, both with Derek and members of Jillian’s family.
Cons: The story got bogged down with so many issues. Derek and Aunt Alicia seemed to exist mainly to educate Jillian about race and the Deaf community; they needed a few more dimensions to make them seem more like ordinary mortals.