- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (October 13, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763680281
- ISBN-13: 978-0763680282
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #414,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Girls Like Us Paperback – October 13, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Quincy and Biddie are "speddies" (special education students). They have just graduated high school and must live out in the world on their own. After being matched together by their teacher, they are given adult responsibilities: Quincy works at a supermarket while Biddie cooks and cleans for the older woman who is boarding them. The teens must learn how to fend for themselves in a world that is unfamiliar. They have both experienced physical, mental, and sexual violence, and must rely on each other to come out stronger than they were before. Girls Like Us is filled with genuine relationships that develop over time and feel authentic. There is humor and heart throughout, making the severity of the protagonists' situations more accessible to readers. A story line about Biddie's obsession with a family of ducks in their backyard is particularly poignant. The one- or two-page chapters alternate between Quincy and Biddie and are told in voices that are genuine to their experiences but never sensationalized. The frank discussions and depictions of the violence committed against them are shocking but never vulgar. Giles has constructed a unique, hard-hitting yet refreshing story with well-developed characters free from expected clichés or caricatures. A powerful novel that teens will enjoy wholeheartedly.—Christopher Lassen, Brooklyn Public Library
*Starred Review* In compelling, engaging, and raw voices, 18-year-olds Biddy and Quincy, newly independent, intellectually disabled high-school graduates, narrate their growing friendship and uneasy transition into a life of jobs, real world apartments, and facing cruel prejudice. Obese and illiterate Biddy has more emotional intelligence than Quincy, whose normal brain development was shattered when her mother’s boyfriend hit her with a brick when she was six. Biddy’s limited cognitive capacities spring from oxygen deprivation during birth as well as lifelong deprivation of nurturing. Paired by a social service program, the girls are made roommates in a live-work placement where they share a small apartment at the home of a wealthy, sensitive, and supportive widow, Elizabeth. Biddy cleans and provides physical assistance for Elizabeth, while Quincy, who loves cooking, works at a market. Biddy and Quincy share deep secrets and narrate lives heartrendingly full of anger, abandonment, and abuse, including explicit, realistic descriptions of two rapes. But with the help of patient Elizabeth and the support they gain from each other, they are empowered to move forward with strength and independence. Giles (Dark Song, 2010) offers a sensitive and affecting story of two young women learning to thrive in spite of their hard circumstances. Grades 8-12. --Francisca Goldsmith
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Top Customer Reviews
Biddy and Quincy, special education girls (Speddies) have graduated. They are placed as roommates in an apartment at an older woman, Lizbeth's house. Quincy, who brain damaged and disfigured when her mother's boyfriend hit her with a brick, has a job in a restaurant while Biddy, who is intellectually disabled, cleans and helps Lizbeth with rehab exercises. Both young women have to adjust to being roommates, being adults with jobs and responsibilities, and sadly, with people treating them kindly for the first times in their lives. Slowly they learn to trust each other and Lizbeth and the three might just become their own family.
Gale Giles has masterfully woven together the voices of Biddy and Quincy, each different and unique with their own idiosyncrasies. The voices are strong, even when the young women feel weak. The short chapters, alternating between the two young women are fast paced although GIRLS LIKE US is primarily a character study, I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next. Giles avoided the trap of creating stereotypical characters with all three women. Each was, at times unlikable, at times heartbreaking, and quite often admirable.
Whether you're an adult or teen, GIRLS LIKE US is a must read. In fact, don't miss any of of Gale Giles books.
Told in alternating viewpoints, each chapter reveals the perspective of the two girls on the situations unfolding them. At first, Biddy and Quincey seem to have little in common except that they’re both graduates of their high school’s special education program. Biddy is white and is always shyly hiding behind her fat exterior. Kind-hearted and sensitive, she also remains scared to step out her front door, especially when men are around. In contrast, Quincey is mixed race and always has her defenses up. She also bluntly express what’s on her mind and faces the world with her fists up. When the two are assigned to live together, with Biddy serving as housekeeper to an elderly lady and Quincey working at a local grocery store, slowly everything changes.
Initially, their perspectives are totally antithetical. Take for example how they view their living arrangements. Biddy views Miss Lizzy’s house as something that came out of a storybook. She feels like a princess going up into a castle. She’s also excited to finally have her own room. In contrast, Quincey describes the house as being about “as big as a hummingbird’s nest” with only a shower instead of a tub. She decides though to make the best of the situation, as long as “that stick of an ole woman be leavin’ me alone.” A pivotal moment happens when Quiney learns that Biddy can’t cook. She convinces Biddy to let her cook and then to hide the truth except, when Biddy actually has to deliver her first meal, Biddy can’t bear to start the relationship of with a life. Quincey thinks this confession will get them fired, but instead earns them praise for being able to work together.
Many other relationship-changing events happen, but the one that binds them together is the rape of Quincey by a co-worker. All along Biddy has been slowly coming out of her shell. The arrival of Stephen, the son of a friend of the family, forces Biddy to rethink her fear of the men. The need to buy dry corn for a mother and her ducklings drives her out of the house and into town. All along Quincey has also been opening herself up to friendship. She buys night lights to help Biddy sleep without nightmares. She also invests in a television for the girls, because Biddy will like the cartoons and maybe learn a few more songs. Then comes the evening when Quincey doesn’t return at a normal hour from her job, Biddy wanders the streets looking for her, and the girls end up bringing comfort to one another with revelations of what happened in their most horrendous experiences.
Giles took ten years to flesh out Girls Like Us. She drew on her experiences as a special education teacher to write the story of Biddy and Quincey. In my interview with her and elsewhere, Giles states, “I just flatly believed those girls voices needed to be heard.” The result is a hard-hitting story and unique story.
Recently graduated, Quincy and Biddy, two special ed ("Speedie") students must now figure out a way to survive on their own, outside the protective school walls. Quincy is a mixed-race young woman who learned to cook at her last foster home. She is feisty and creative and knows exactly what she wants. Biddy is resigned and fearful of boys, having been attacked and impregnated. Her child was taken from her by her grandmother and adopted by a rich couple. Together, they move into a small apartment in the backyard of Miss Lizzy's large estate. There, Quincy will cook for Miss Lizzy, the widow of the mayor, and Biddy will clean. This is the first time they will be responsible for another human being, and they are excited to take up the challenge, Quincy more so than Biddy.
While Biddy cleans at Miss Lizzy's, Quincy walks to work at the Brown Cow supermarket where she is harassed by a co-worker named Robert. When things take a turn for the worse, you would be surprised at who shows up to help.
This book, fast-paced with two to three page chapters, makes you root for the underdog, cry for the voiceless, and pray for change. Kudos to you, Gail Giles, for doing what many are afraid to do.