Girls Like Us
Author: Gail Giles
Published May 27th, 2014 by Candlewick Press
Goodreads Summary: With gentle humor and unflinching realism, Gail Giles tells the gritty, ultimately hopeful story of two special ed teenagers entering the adult world.
We understand stuff. We just learn it slow. And most of what we understand is that people what ain’t Speddies think we too stupid to get out our own way. And that makes me mad.
Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in their first “real world” apartment, it initially seems to be an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces a harrowing experience that no one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought — and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward.
Hard-hitting and compassionate, Girls Like Us is a story about growing up in a world that can be cruel, and finding the strength — and the support — to carry on.
My Review: While reading this book, I had no question that it deserved the Schneider Teen Award. The Schneider Family Book Award honors a “book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for adolescent audiences,” and Girls Like Us take us into Quincy and Biddy’s worlds as they learn to transition from a special-ed classroom in high school to real life in such a true matter, it definitely meets the criteria for the award. In many ways, the book is like any book about girls who just graduated from high school: learning to live with a roommate you don’t understand, learning to be responsible, etc. However, the challenges that these young ladies face because of their disabilities puts the book on a whole different level. Although the book is primarily about Quincy and Biddy’s life, it does illuminate some serious issues towards the treatment of differently abled individuals. (P.S. I love the ending very much!)
There is so much to talk about with this book! Because it impacted myself and a few of my friends, we decided to have a Twitter chat focused around it (#GLUChat). If you have read the book (because there are spoilers) check out our conversation: https://storify.com/trkravtin/girls-like-us-twitter-chat. Thank you to Teresa for archiving and Michele, Carrie, Alyson, and Leigh for taking part in it with me!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The characters in this book are so complex! Even the secondary characters are fleshed out and have a presence. Girls Like Us is a wonderful example of character building and voice and how that can make (or break) a novel. It is especially fascinating to compare the voice and tone of the two girls’ sections. Extremely well crafted.
Discussion Questions: How do Quincy and Biddy complement each other?; How does Miss Lizzy help Quincy and Biddy overcome the challenges they face leaving school?; How did you (and Miss Lizzy) underestimate Quincy and Biddy? Why did you/she do so?; If you were going to record your feelings like Biddy and Quincy do, what would your recording say?; Did you predict why Biddy didn’t like males correctly? Did you predict the ending?
We Flagged: “My name is Biddy. Some call me other names. Granny calls me Retard. Quincy call me White Trash sometimes and Fool most of the time. Most kids call me Speddie. That’s short for Special Education.
I can’t write or read. A little bit, but not good enough to matter. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know. If I could write I could make a long list. List might reach lal the way through Texas to someplace like Chicago. I don’t know where Chicago is. That’s another thing for the list.
But there’s some things I do know. And once I know a thing, I hold it tight and don’t let it stray off. Granny shouldn’t call me Retard. I know that. It ain’t nice. It hurts my feelings. I know it’s a wrong thing to hurt somebody’s feelings. I know that I ain’t White Trash. Trash is something you throw away. You don’t throw nobody away. That’s wrong. Even if my mama done it to me.” (p. 1)
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