Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing)

by Alison McGhee

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Julia Gillian (who is almost always referred to by her full name) is a girl who does not want to grow up.  She lives in an apartment in Minneapolis with her two teacher parents who are spending the summer taking classes themselves and, in JG’s opinion, largely ignoring her.  She, however, spends the summer walking her nine-block radius with her enormous dog and, despite her best efforts, growing up.  She finds a mentor of sorts in her neighbor Enzo who is 18 and lives with her brother, spending most of her time reading in an indoor hammock and giving JG wise advice.  Julia Gillian’s main problem with growing up seems to manifest itself in a book.  A green-covered, scary book that she once started reading and, upon realizing that the child’s dog would die, closed and never opened it – or any other book – again.  But JG defies her parents and their punishment is for her to read from the dreaded green book for a certain amount of time each day until she finishes it.

I’m not sure how I feel about reading being a punishment.  It seems to work in combination with Enzo’s guidance, but it could have backfired.  I did love Enzo, and JG’s relationship with her.  I enjoyed watching JG grow up and could definitely see kids growing up alongside her.  The book looks intimidating in length but there are pictures and big text so it goes by quickly.

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