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. Sincere and slightly heartbreaking, teens that might not always fit in or have had to overcome hardships might enjoy this book. I would also recommend Girls Like Us for teens that may not be avid readers. The short, poignant chapters and colorful dialogue make it an easy, engaging read. I question if the book stereotypes disabled and foster care children, but I also see its inspirational value. Controversial books still open productive dialogue.
Girls Like Us by Gail Giles (Candlewick 2015)
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