Review: Girls Like Us By Gail Giles

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles is a young adult read that takes risks at portraying ‘street’ youth with emotional and physical disabilities.  This title is especially relevant for its multicultural and realistic fiction elements. Upon high school graduation and spending years as “Speddies” in the special education program, Biddy and Quincy enter the ‘real’ world. Placed in a safe home environment with an older woman and given jobs, both girls learn to work together.  Ultimately, the girls form a family with the people around them, and over time, Biddy and Quincy discover how to overcome abuse and rape. At the book’s heart, Giles examines Biddy and Quincy to their core; as Biddy sheds her protective, giant coat filled with candy bars, we know that these characters have grown. Chapters alternate with each girl’s distinct voice.  The different perspectives help to show the unique ways in which we see and interpret the world.…

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Review: Saints and Misfits- A Novel by S.K. Ali

During a heated political time, Ali has created a story for all cultures meant to explain the values and customs of what it means for one Muslim community and Muslim woman in America. Growing up with a more traditional Muslim family, Janna has to reconcile crushing on a non-Muslim boy, high school bullies, unsupportive friends, and conflicting emotions about being sexually assaulted by a monster—a covert monster who receives high praise in the Muslim community. Those who seem pious are anything but, and while Janna battles contradictions in her faith, she must also struggle with everyday life of being a teenage girl, including a nosy mother and annoying older brother. An honorable multicultural high school read, I have to admit that this story lost its momentum. I found myself skimming through dialogue. This slow pace fails with the quickened and perfect ending—unrealistic in its perfection. Blink and all of the…

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Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Because Cat’s sister, Maya, suffers from cystic fibrosis, the family decides that it best to move near the cool, Californian ocean air. In Bahía de la Luna, Cat begins to learn about her Mexican heritage in a city that is obsessed with ghosts. Although Cat is a glass half empty kind of girl, Maya is extremely optimistic and energetic. Maya convinces Cat to go on a ghost tour with a cute boy in town, Carlos, to prove that ghosts do exist. While on top of a hill at the mission, Maya suddenly has a breathing attack and is placed on a machine that limits even more of her daily activities such as trick-or-treating. With the Day of the Dead quickly approaching, both girls attempt to come to terms with dying as well as living with the help of ghosts, new friends, and family. Ghosts is a quick and visually stimulating…

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Book Review: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Amina is a Pakistani-American who has just started middle school with her best friend, a Korean-American, Soojin. Soojin is applying for American citizenship and has decided to change her name to sound more American. Soojin’s sudden refutation of identity causes a rift between the friends, which is further widened as Emily, a student who used to make fun of their cultural differences, tries to befriend the girls. As if Amina does not face enough stress and new feelings of jealously already, her strong-willed uncle from Pakistan decides to visit, her teacher pressures her to sing in the school concert—Amina never sings in public—and her Sunday school teacher and parents force her to enter a Quran competition for the local Islamic Center. Just as things cannot get any worse, Amina accidentally shares Emily’s secret crush, causing a trivial fight with her friends, and the local Islamic Center and mosque is vandalized.…

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