Saturday, September 13, 2014
Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Candlewick Press
With a new school year underway, I have the privilege of working with a variety of students, and while I appreciate diversity, there are many who do not. Special Education students, specifically, do not receive the credit and respect that they deserve for being independent learners. Gail Giles, whose What Happened to Cass McBride has fascinated my students for years now, gives a voice to those who are silenced by stereotypes.
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.