Sunday, May 25, 2014

Now I'll Tell You Everything and Girls Like Us

17017077 Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Now I'll Tell You Everything
Published October 15th 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Alice graduates from high school, goes off to college to become a school conselour, dates a guy named Dave and almost marries him, then LIVES THE REST OF HER ENTIRE LIFE UNTIL SHE'S ABOUT 70.

Granted, Naylor has spent the past 30 years writing about Alice, so she's spent more time with her than any living person in her life. More than her own actual children, I imagine. So she's invested in her and wants to create the rest of her life.

I, on the other hand, was rather content to leave her at high school. I didn't want to know about her first sexual experience. Or her second. Or her children. Or her weight gain in middle age. Since I read the series when I was first married (in 1988), this just seems somehow wrong.

Loyal readers who started when they were in school, and who have then had their daughters read the series, will be very pleased. I was just sad because... I'm old, and now so is Alice.

18404410Giles, Gail. Girls Like Us.
May 27th 2014, Candlewick
Book received from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Biddy and Quincy graduate from the special education unit at their school, and are set up in an apartment to live together. Biddy, who is developmentally disabled because of a birth trauma, was raised by a grandmother who was angry with Biddy's mother, and so was strict and deprived Biddy of many opportunities and comforts. Quincy has been in foster care ever since her mother's boyfriend hit her in the head with a brick. She is a bit more able to function in the world than Biddy, but still struggles with some issues. The two share an apartment over the garage next to Miss Lizzy's house. Biddy is supposed to clean and cook for Miss Lizzy, and Quincy will go to work at a supermarket in the food preparation area. While Biddy is fantastic at cleaning, she can't cook, but the girls work out a system where Quincy will. Biddy also helps Miss Lizzy with her exercises, since the older woman is in poor health. Biddy has been raped by a gang of boys, so she is fearful and relies on a huge and heavy coat, and well as lots of junk food to keep herself fat and unattractive. Quincy experiences problems at work with a male clerk; he gets fired because of it and later attacks Quincy after work and rapes her. The two girls work through their shared experiences to both get help from the system, and eventually learn to enjoy being together, and become less fearful of the world around them.
Strengths: While this is not a middle grade novel because of the rape, it was extremely interesting and intriguing. I would expect nothing less from Giles, who doesn't have a lot of books out but always writes something fascinating. This was well written and enjoyable even though it was in many ways shocking. Giles apparently works with developmentally disabled students and drew ably from her experiences. Wonderful book, and a must for high school libraries.
Weaknesses: I don't know that I would change anything in this book!It would be nice if it could be read by  middle schoolers, but the rapes are really integral to the plot.


Jennifer Schultz said...

I am really eager to read this. It's certainly unique to YA literature. Glad to read that you thought it was worthwhile!

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