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Girls Like Us

Review

Girls Like Us

       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 follows the story of Quincy and Biddy, two 18-year-old Special Education students who have just graduated high school, and who are relocated to an elderly woman’s house, who the girls call Miss Lizzie/Lizbeth. Biddy is Miss Lizzie’s housekeeper and Quincy is an employee at the supermarket down the street. 
 
        The two girls couldn’t be more different, despite superficialities. Biddy’s mental disabilities come from not having enough oxygen in the womb, and she was abandoned by her mother to be raised by her verging-on-cruel grandmother. Quincy received a head trauma wound when she was 6 from her abusive mother’s boyfriend, and she has bounced around the foster care system ever since. Quincy faces the world always on the defensive, never trusting anyone, and never believing there is much good in anyone. Biddy, on the other hand, walks through the world doe-eyed and smiling, trying to make the best out of everything, despite what slowly resurfaces as her dark and traumatic past. At first, living together is more than difficult, but as events unfold, Miss Lizzie teaches them about life through both good intentions and misplaced, ignorant ones, and the girls begin to see each other’s inner core and grow closer and closer. And when the same tragedy strikes Quincy as it did Biddy so many years ago, the two realize how much they need each other. 
 
GIRLS LIKE US will break your heart, but you will be glad for it.
 
       What stands out easily and immediately is the writing style. The chapters alternate between the two girls’ points of view, and they are written as if Quincy and Biddy were speaking to the reader. That means most of the sentences are not proper grammar, and they show how each girl’s mental disability specifically affects them. It’s a bit tricky to get the hang of at first, but as the reader learns more about the girls, it becomes almost like a new kind of poetry. When the girls finally triumph over others with their words, you understand how much of a success it is for them to get their thoughts across clearly and profoundly, and you will cheer. 
 
       This story is as beautiful as it is dark, walloping readers in the face with the grim realities of the lives of girls like Quincy and Biddy. It’s a monumental statement that not only does medicine need to reform how it treats people with mental disabilities, but society as a whole needs a serious change of heart, outlook and attitude on how we treat people like these girls. It also has one of the most brutally stark statements on sexual assault, and it will leave people riled and ready to take a stand against this horrid crime and wanting to break down all the barriers and obstacles that has kept our society from progressing into a better method of handling this issue. 
 
       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. The book is painful to get through, but what the reader gains from it will make them realize that like exercise or medical treatments, some pain is designed to make you better. 

Reviewed by Corinne Fox on May 29, 2014

Girls Like Us
by Gail Giles

  • Publication Date: May 27, 2014
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763662674
  • ISBN-13: 9780763662677