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. ... Biddy and Quincy share deep secrets and narrate lives heartrendingly full of anger, abandonment, and abuse... 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 offers a sensitive and affecting story of two young women learning to thrive in spite of their hard circumstances.
—Booklist (starred review)
Giles’s background teaching special education students informs this blunt, honest, and absorbing story about two young women overcoming challenges that have less to do with their abilities to read or write than with how society views and treats them. In short, alternating chapters, the girls narrate in raw and distinct voices that capture their day-to-day hurdles, agony, and triumphs. The “found family” that builds slowly for Quincy, Biddy, and Elizabeth—with no shortage of misunderstandings, mistrust, or tears—is rewarding and powerful.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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. ... 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.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
The story is told with both gentleness and a humor that laughs with, not at, the two girls. ... [T]he warmth, conflict and mutual caring that develop among Quincy, Biddy and elderly Miss Lizzy is authentic and genuinely moving. A respectful and winningly told story about people too often relegated to the role of plot device—bravo.
The book gives memorable voice to underrepresented young women.
—The Horn Book
Girls Like Us is a quick, enjoyable read that is hard to put down. The author draws readers in with deep, meaningful characters who play on sympathies. ... The book is well written, with believable scenarios and dialogue most readers will enjoy. Girls Like Us will remain with readers long after they finish this story.
Often humorous, this story is realistically fashioned to portray the lives of two young girls whose stories usually go unmentioned, yet are both encouraging and triumphant.
—Library Media Connection
The brief chapters allow plenty of time for thought on the part of the readers as they’re steeped into the daily challenges and thoughts of differently abled people. ... Intellectually disabled young people don’t receive a lot of attention in literature... especially when it comes to the difficult transition to adult living; readers with their own launch concerns may find this particularly rewarding.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
In the market for a new favorite writer? Gail Giles just might fit the bill. This novel, written in short, alternating chapters in the voices of two special-ed teens, is an absolute stunner. ... This novel has the feeling of an instant classic, from its impeccable use of language to its stirring message.
This highly readable story is a welcome addition to a growing literature about teens with mental and physical challenges.
Never have I read so deep, evocative, and hard-hitting of a statement (on so many topics nonetheless) as GIRLS LIKE US. This book may be smaller and on the shorter side, but don’t be fooled. I can guarantee you will be crying and/or feeling quite moved by the last page. ... GIRLS LIKE US will break your heart, but you will be glad for it, because you will learn an invaluable lesson, and ultimately, the breaking will feel more like an uplifting breath of air.
Powerfully explores the realities of living with disabilities, a topic not often discussed in YA books.
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
Two "Speddies"—special ed students—graduate high school and move in with a kind but sometimes misguided older woman. At first, prickly Quincy, who is mixed-race, and fearful but kind Biddy, who is white, seem to have little in common besides their special ed designation. After they finish high school, the two girls are placed in a living situation together. Biddy has a job cooking and cleaning for the elderly woman in whose home they are staying, and Quincy will work at a grocery store. The girls narrate alternate chapters, a page or two long each and related in readable but distinct dialect. The story is told with both gentleness and a humor that laughs with, not at, the two girls. (Quincy's recurring joke about Biddy catching "the duck rabies" from a family of ducks she's started feeding is particularly charming.) Sexual, institutional and family violence against both Quincy and Biddy are treated frankly, with realistic but not sensational detail. One plot point involving the daughter who was taken from Biddy years earlier feels contrived, but otherwise, the warmth, conflict and mutual caring that develop among Quincy, Biddy and elderly Miss Lizzy are authentic and genuinely moving. A respectful and winningly told story about people too often relegated to the role of plot device—bravo. (Fiction. 12-18)