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Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Updated: Mar 13, 2022

I picked up Girls Like Us not knowing what to expect, but I just finished it and I am crying a bit. It's such a sweet story about two girls who have just graduated from high school. They were both special education students, or "Speddies," as they call themselves (and others called them), and they both felt like nothing as the story started. One of the characters, Quincy, suffered a traumatic brain injury at the hands of her mother's boyfriend, and the other character, Biddy, has an intellectual disability. Although each knew the other in high school, they were not friends.

After graduation, with the help of the school and a social worker, they are placed in an apartment together and are set up with jobs. Quincy works in a cafe and Biddy cleans and takes care of Lizabeth, the old woman who hired them and gave them housing. Out in the "real world," trying to find their way, Quincy, Biddy, AND Lizabeth all struggle, grow, and change. I cried, and I wanted to throw up at some points, but most of all, I feel happy that I came across this story.

I am thinking that I will book talk Girls Like Us to my kids and see if anyone will pick it up for independent reading time. There are two very tough scenes in the book that make me hesitant to use it as a full-class text, but I wouldn't hesitate to display it in my room (9th-12th graders) and try and get some kids to read it individually.

I could also work as part of a choice-book unit about disabilities...or maybe a choice for literature circles. I have taught Stuck in Neutral and Wonder by themselves, but it would be cool to do a unit where kids could choose from Stuck in Neutral, Wonder, Marcelo in the Real World, and Girls Like Us.

Has anyone else read Girls Like Us? What did you think about it? Are you using it in your classroom? Did you pair it with other books and articles? Feel free to post your ideas or any resources (free or paid) that you would like to share with others.

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