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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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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