Thursday, January 15, 2015

Girls Like Us

This cover doesn't do justice to the excellent book within. I know a bad cover puts off some readers and it pains me because, as always, Gail Giles has written a fabulous book that many readers will devour in a single sitting. Her writing is that fluid, that engaging. She nails the voices of her two main characters, and her newest novel is told in the alternating voices of two teens who live on the margins of society.

Quincy and Biddy are known as "speddies" or by even more cruel names, like "retard," which Biddy knows is wrong. (Her grandmother calls her this, giving the reader an early clue to that woman's character.) Quincy and Biddy are both proud of their recent accomplishment: they  are the only two Special Ed kids to walk in their high school graduation ceremony. Quincy comes from a long line of foster homes, Biddy from her grandmother's house where she was little more than a servant to a woman who collected checks from the state until Biddy turned eighteen. Quincy remembers "being smarter," before her drug-addicted mother's boyfriend smashed her in the head with a brick while Biddy was robbed of oxygen as she was being born and knows she has always been different--and treated harshly for it. Nonetheless, Biddy faces life with happiness, unless boys come near her. Then things change. Quincy is an angry person and never hesitates to express that anger. When the girls' teacher tells them they will be living together as they set off into adulthood, Quincy isn't happy about the deal. Everyone knows Biddy is a "ho," and, for her part, Biddy doesn't know what to make of her sullen new roommate. But both girls make a go of their new arrangement until a frightening boy from Quincy's job at the local bakery turns their fragile happiness to terror.

Gail Giles's writing is not to be missed. Her books are short, fast reads with depth. I couldn't stop reading once I started this, and I have found this to be the case with all her other books too. Readers shouldn't miss What Happened to Cass MacBride. Warning: it's a dark one. Which means, of course, I loved it. Girls Like Us may appeal to more readers than Cass MacBride, though it's not exactly light either. There are very painful moments. The enemies these girls face are heartbreaking. But they have allies too. Almost from the first page, these characters become so real to the reader. They are genuine.

Excellent new novel. Try to overlook the less than thrilling cover.

No comments: