Gail Giles weaves a tale as rich and thick as triple-chocolate cake. We all know that some people think diversity is just double-speak for Black, but in Girls Like Us we get to know girls who are marginalized, not just because of their color, but because of their experience, their placement in school, their pasts.
Biddy and Quincy are “Speddies”, or slang for special education students who have just graduated from high school and are placed together in an apartment that they rent from an elderly woman in town. Biddy cleans house and works as a home-health aide and Quincy does the cooking at a local bakery. Both girls are developmentally disabled on different levels, but we get to learn how they navigate the world, how they treat it and how it treats them in return.
The pain of their childhoods cut deep and Quincy’s quick Southern tongue is a special treat for someone like me who has a soft spot for regional fair. These girls aren’t rich, pretty, or neurotypical. They aren’t at all what is usually presented to us and you have to love them. It is a must read and a punch to the gut in the same way that Push by Sapphire was when it came out. I totally expect it to be challenged and for that you should have your school book club read it now!
Side note: I’m pissed at Candlewick for this awful, awful cover. If you can’t do justice to the multiracial backgrounds of the characters then don’t depict them at all. There are tons of font heavy covers to offer you inspiration.
Placed on Recommendation list for a GA Peach Award. (By the by. If you want to read great fiction. Review it and let people know about it.)