November 28, 2014
Review: Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
Title: Girls Like Us
Author: Gail Giles
Published: May 27th, 2014
Genres/Themes: Young Adult, Special Needs, Friendship, Social Situations
Rating: Two Stars
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.
Cover Thoughts: I love the two girls in the background. I can tell they don’t get along, which shows how the initial characters relationships are. I think the colors used are unique too.
First Line: My name is Biddy.
This is going to take a little getting used to.
What attracted me to Girls Like Us by Gail Giles was the plot involving two special education graduates who would be living together. I like the idea of roommates, friendship and young women connecting. Unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with it. Quincy and Biddy have graduated from their special needs program and are now put together to live with an old woman called Miss Elizabeth where they will help her and learn from each other.
Girls Like Us is told in an interesting way with a first person point of view through tape recordings. Both girls, Biddy and Quincy, record their thoughts on a tape like a diary. I thought this was intriguing and unique.
Biddy is an overweight, white girl who was abandoned by her mother and taken in by her grandmother. Biddy’s grandmother often talked badly about Biddy growing up, but surprisingly has a more positive outlook on herself. She suffers from not being able to read, write and has conventional learning issues. It takes her a little time before she’s able to understand something.
Quincy is mixed and has problems with writing, though she’s able to read. When Quincy was young, she was hit with a brick by her mother’s boyfriend which lead to her getting taken away.
The dialect in Girls Like Us took some getting used to. There’s a Southern accent in combination with the speech. I got used to it soon enough though and enjoyed the story. I think Giles did an okay job of using the dialect in Girls Like Us. I would have preferred to not have sounded quite so Southern and used other ways to show the way they spoke. Biddy suffers with
I immediately liked Biddy with her naivete and childlike behavior and happy personality. I knew this would definitely lead to friction between her and Quincy. In the beginning Quincy believes she knows everything about Biddy there is to know, that she was pregnant which means she hangs out with a lot of guys. I liked seeing that change for Quincy. I loved the girls’ relationship with Miss Elizabeth.
Quincy was a foster child who always moved from home to home, never really belonging to a family before she had to leave it. This certainly explains why she has a bad attitude at the beginning of the book and doesn’t completely trust Miss Elizabeth. I didn’t like Quincy too much in the beginning, but that gradually changed by the ending.
There were a few things I disliked about Girls Like Us. I found the Quincy and Biddy’s voice to be really similar to eachother. I didn’t like how they both struggled with the same “problem” that happens which brings them together. I think there are better ways it could have been done than having them suffer from the same thing. There’s a weird subplot in Girls Like Us which I felt should have been expanded or left out because readers aren’t given much detail about it. There’s also a character whose name I actually can’t recall, they were in three scenes and I think had they been used more, the book could have been better.
Girls Like Us seemed to be dealt with care, which I liked. Biddy and Quincy weren’t shown as less than human just because they have special needs. I loved how the girls became stronger thanks to each other.
I did enjoy the first person format, the alternate reviews and the initial premise. Girls Like Us was somewhat of an eyeopener on how special needs people think and feel. This is a rare topic to discuss in Young Adult literature, so I appreciate what Giles tried to do by taking it on. Girls Like Us is definitely moving and has some emotional scenes. I felt for both girls growing up the way they had and being defined by a society that didn’t understand them.
I feel Girls Like us definitely could have been written better and may have done better as a longer novel. I do think it’s good for the short amount of pages it has. I wouldn’t necessarily re-read this book or recommend it though.