About the Book
Girls Like Me opens with sixteen-year-old, queer identified Banjo Logan waking up in a juvenile mental ward, groggy and fearing for the life of her unborn child. Banjo is unsure if she wants to raise her baby or give her up for adoption. Soon after waking up she is ushered out of her room and into the day room PRU, a strange and slightly manic girl, who we later find out is trans, approaches Banjo and manages to prod her out of her self-inflicted silence. Pru was born in Ethiopia, but was adopted as a preschooler by rich, white parents who never let Pru forget how they “rescued” her. Pru confesses to Banjo that she is also queer. So begins Banjo’s journey of healing and remembrance of the wonderful and terrible day she got pregnant.
For Readers and Book Clubs:
GIrls Like Me Reading Guide
“It’s not just that I ‘couldn’t put it down’ and that I felt I was physically there with Banjo and her friends every minute of their journey through adolescence, their search for their identity and their increasing awareness of themselves and the world, but also that this story is ‘singing my song’ of girls like us who have or will traverse a similar journey and who desperately need this book. Stunningly important.” — Katherine Arnoldi, author, The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom and All Things Are Labor
“Nina Packebush is the real deal. Like an alchemist, she uses stark and poetic prose to transmute grief and hard luck into pure golden magic. Honest, lyrical, and as in love with the ugly as the beautiful, Packebush’s hotly-anticipated debut novel is sure to become an instant classic.” — Ariel Gore, author of eight books including Breeder and The End of Eve, and publisher of Hip Mama Magazine
“From page one, Girls Like Me is a novel that grips onto your mind and heart and won’t let go. Nina Packebush has created a world equal parts tragedy and magic that illuminates what it’s like to be a queer teen searching for love and belonging on the margins of heteronormative society. Through the unfolding of Banjo’s story, Packebush humanizes the struggles that queer and gender non-conforming youth face—very real and understandable struggles that are often wrongly pathologized in our mental health system as ‘illness.’ Packebush also does not shy away from traditionally taboo topics such as self-harm and suicide, creating a much-needed opportunity for youth to explore subjects that are so rarely discussed with honesty. Her stories also poignantly illustrate how our deepest healing happens in relationships with those we love and trust. This is a book that I dearly wish I had been around when I was a disaffected teen struggling with suicide and mental health issues.” — Leah Harris, poet, storyteller, and intersectional activist
“Nina Packebush’s Girls Like Me makes visible an invisible, necessary story—that of a pregnant teen wrestling with gender, grief, desire, and transformation. Packebush’s narrator Banjo is utterly real and refreshingly complex. We are compelled to stick with her as she and her quirky cast of misfit friends navigate the terrain of queer adolescence with humor and grit. An essential book for this generation of young adults.” — Jacks McNamara, co-founder of the Icarus Project and author of Inbetweenland