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Gail Giles Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

glass shattering review write

Born September 24, in Galveston, TX; Education: Attended Stephen F. Austin State University. Hobbies and other interests: Watercolor painting, reading, computer solitaire, playing guitar.


Agent—Scott Treimel, 434 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10003.


Writer. Taught high school in Angleton, TX.

Honors Awards

Best Books for Young Adults selection and Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers selection, American Library Association (ALA), both 2003, both for Shattering Glass; ALA Teens Top Ten selection, 2003, for Dead Girls Don't Write Letters.


Breath of the Dragon, illustrated by June Otani, Clarion Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Shattering Glass, Roaring Brook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2002.

Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, Roaring Brook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2003.

Playing in Traffic, Roaring Brook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2004.


Shattering Glass was adapted as an audiobook, Listening Library, 2003.

Gail Giles


"Simon Glass was easy to hate. I never knew exactly why, there was too much to pick from. I guess, really, we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him." Thus begins Gail Giles' 2002 novel Shattering Glass, "a cautionary tale about high-school popularity and conformity," according to Brian Wilson in Booklist. Giles is also the author of other well-received novels for middle-graders and young adults, including Breath of the Dragon, Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, and Playing in Traffic.

Breath of the Dragon appeared in 1997. In the work, a young Thai girl named Malila is left in the care of her grandmother after Malila's father is killed by police and her mother immigrates to the United States. Grandmother teaches the girl about the traditions of her country, which Malila translates into beautiful drawings. A teacher recognizes Malila's artistic talents, and she eventually makes plans to reunite with her mother. "The story is simply written," remarked Susan DeRonne in Booklist, "and the beauty of the Thai culture emerges on every page." In School Library Journal Susan Hepler wrote that "This gentle story portrays the prior experiences and emotions of many immigrants—hardship, vivid memories, and hope."

Giles' young adult novel Shattering Glass describes the efforts of a powerful clique, headed by charismatic Rob Haynes, to flaunt its power by elevating the status of class geek Simon Glass. The plan works but has unexpected consequences: a newly confident Simon challenges Rob's authority and even discovers a terrible secret about Rob's past. Simon's actions only serve to anger Rob and his cronies, including Thaddeus R.

The senior class leader's efforts to turn the class nerd into Prince Charming lead dramatically to death in this debut young adult novel. (Cover illustration by Jaye Zimet.)

"Young" Steward, the book's narrator. The clique enacts its revenge on Simon in a "shockingly violent climax," according to Kliatt reviewer Paula Rohrlick.

On the Gail Giles Home Page, the author stated that two famous works influenced her novel, William Golding's Lord of the Flies and F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. "Lord of the Flies, one of my alltime favorites, made me think about the ability of power to corrupt. I even named my nerd character Simon as an homage to the book," Giles explained. Giles patterned "Young" Steward after the character of Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. "I liked the narrator, Nick, how he was enamored of the main character, so that his voice was not quite reliable. Now, Nick, in Fitzgerald's novel, is also the moral center of the book and I needed Young not quite that honorable." Giles also addressed her decision to reveal Simon's death so early in her work: "Why did I choose to give away the ending? The ending is violent and the book is not about the violence but what caused it. How things spin out of control. About little wrongs leading to big ones. If I gave the violence away at the beginning, I felt like I defused the shock—and shock wasn't the reason for this book to exist."

Critics found much to praise in Shattering Glass. Writing in Kliatt, Sarah Applegate called it "an intriguing and at times painfully real story" of high school life. Vicki Reutter in School Library Journal stated that the "plot is fast-paced and compelling and there is power in the brewing violence and shocking end." Ilene Cooper, reviewing the work in Booklist, noted some holes in the plot but added that "the pacing is superb, and the story's twists are unexpected and disquieting." A critic in Kirkus Reviews remarked that "most intriguing are the quotes heading each chapter, revealing the perspectives of the characters five years later, and which raise questions of justice, mercy, and individual responsibility."

In Giles' thriller Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, strange events are set in motion after Sunny Reynolds receives a letter from her older sister, Jazz, who was presumed killed in a fire months earlier. Jazz then returns home and is immediately welcomed by Sunny's mother and father. Though Jazz seems to know much about the family's history, Sunny believes the woman is an impostor and works to discover her true identity. "This is a page-turner with sharp dialogue and psychologically intriguing viewpoints," remarked Ilene Cooper in Booklist, and a critic in Kirkus Reviews stated that "teen readers will love having their preconceptions continually turned topsy-turvy, and will endlessly debate the tale's maddeningly ambiguous conclusion." Some critics found the conclusion of Dead Girls Don't Write Letters unconvincing. A Publishers Weekly critic wrote that "the swift wrap-up … undercuts the carefully crafted nuances of complicated familial relationships," and Lynn Evarts, reviewing the work in School Library Journal, maintained that while "The plot is intriguing,

Sunny and her family are recovering from the tragedy of the death of her older sister when a girl claiming to be the sister shows up at the house in this compelling thriller. (Cover illustration by BTDNYC.)

… the ending is just too unclear." In Kliatt, Claire Rosser wrote, "There are plot twists here, which the author manages to pull off if the reader isn't too questioning."

Giles' 2004 work Playing in Traffic concerns two students, shy Matt Lathrop and rebellious Skye Colby, and their odd, unlikely relationship. When Skye takes an interest in Matt, he is intrigued, despite the danger Skye represents. Giles wrote on her Web site: "Why do I write such dark and edgy stuff? I want the reader to come up and sneak a peak at violence and darkness, check out the edge of the abyss and decide it is a trip not to be taken. Read about the road that leads to oblivion, but take another."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, April 1, 1997, Susan DeRonne, review of Breath of the Dragon, p. 1334; March 1, 2002, Ilene Cooper, review of Shattering Glass, p. 1133; March 15, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, p. 1317; June 1, 2003, Brian Wilson, review of Shattering Glass (audiobook), p. 1812.

Bookseller, January 16, 2004, Claudia Mody, "Teenage Reads," pp. 37-42.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2002, review of Shattering Glass, p. 181; February 15, 2003, review of Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, p. 305.

Kliatt, July, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Shattering Glass, p. 10; May, 2003, Claire Rosser, review of Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, p. 8; September, 2003, Sarah Applegate, review of Shattering Glass, pp. 1617.

Publishers Weekly, February 11, 2002, review of Shattering Glass, p. 188; January 13, 2003, review of Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, p. 61; October 13, 2003, review of Shattering Glass, p. 82.

St. Petersburg Times, March 15, 2004, Holly Atkins, "Interview with Gail Giles," p. 4E.

School Library Journal, June, 1997, Susan Hepler, review of Breath of the Dragon, p. 117; April, 2002, Vicki Reutter, review of Shattering Glass, pp. 148-149; May, 2003, Lynn Evarts, review of Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, p. 152; July, 2003, Jane P. Fenn, review of Shattering Glass (audiobook), p. 71.

Teacher Librarian, February, 2004, Ruth Cox, "Tough Guys," pp. 10-11.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2003, Bonnie Kunzel, "Shattered by Shattering Glass: A Teen Book Group Forsakes Fantasy for Realism," pp. 19-21.


Children's Literature Resources Web site, http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com/ (March 5, 2004), interview with Giles.

Gail Giles Home Page, http://www.galegiles.com/ (March 5, 2004).*

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about 7 years ago

i loved dead girs dont write letters and i read it all the time

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about 7 years ago

Im reading your book dead girls don't write letters.......I love it so far its so interesting I Love All the suspense and how u change from one climax to the next getting me not to put the book down.....

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almost 4 years ago

My son Thimo (age 15) reads What happened to Cass McBride for school.
We were wondering if there is also a movie based on this book.
Greetings from Belgium.
Thimo and Els

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about 4 years ago

in school i'm reading shattering glass and so far it's very good.

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about 6 years ago

just finished RIGHT BEHIND YOU i loved the book and it had a very good ending :D

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over 7 years ago

Mrs.Giles or Ms.Giles, I'm not sure if you are married or not. But last week i saw this book in my liabary Shattering Glass, well i thought it was about a "meth user" but i read it and just finished it yesterday, and i loved it.. so i just checked out your new book wrote in 2010, Dark song, Cant wait to read it, but i got your address and i want to write you a letter and send you my poem and see what you think of it, it took me 20 mins to write it. But i am a song writer, and since your book "Shattering Glass" i am now writing poems too. I am popular at school and your book touched me. when i send my letter please write back i will let you know its me. thank you Ms.Giles/Mrs.Giles..



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6 months ago

I see no comments at all anywhere about Playing In Traffic. Personally, the story was alright, it was a good step out of my normal reading comfort zone but I see so much more potential in your writing for thrillers. After reading this book, I found I only enjoyed the last three pages. Everything else I didn't want to think about, it seemed as if Skye was just a complication to your story and the ending was the point of no return, the unity of opposites hit me with full effect. I do not enjoy this book because the unity of opposites at the end did not get resolved. It would make a way better story. I didn't find myself intrigued in the book until then. And as soon as I started liking it is as soon as it ended. I finally got the feeling of when a book is so good, you only think about it in a movie state because it is so good. As soon as I was given that you ripped it away. I feel betrayed and would not read again.

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11 months ago

Hi, I am from South Korea and I found the Shattering Glass was very inspiring and interesting. I bought two more books which are What happened to Cass McBride and Right Behind You after I came back from Canada. Today, I bought the rest of the book you have written. I am a huge fan of you. Although my English is not perfect, I can understand your book easily and I can feel all the characters. I hope I can meet you someday.

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over 1 year ago

Hi Mrs Giles. I was a student of yours at Angleton High School. 1992. I've read all your books. But it's time for the world to read, "looking through the eye of the storm". 9/1/2017 and the water is still risen.

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over 1 year ago

Dear Ms. Giles i hope your day is going very well because mine is.

My name is Lacee Nellis. I am 16, almost 17, and i go to Cicero North Syracuse High School .

I am writing this letter to you for an english assignment where we have to email the author of the book we are reading . I am currently reading”Dead Girls Don't Write Letters”. I really like the story of Sunny and her sister, Jazz mostly, about how Jazz died in a fire and then Jazz shows up at her house. Sunny was completely shocked and tries to find out who the supposed Jazz is because she knew something was wrong with the new Jazz. This book had me on the edge. I really loved this book, I couldn't put it down when i started reading it. I personally love your books. i've only read two other books . ,”What happened to Cass Mcbride” and ,”Shattering Glass” . I really enjoy your ideas Because i love mystery and crime books.

What made you come up with your idea for Dead Girls Don't Write Letters?Thank you so much for writing an amazing novel. I enjoy reading your novels .

I hope you read this email and get back to me .Thank you so much.

Sincerely LN.