The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed – Simon Pulse – Published 10 October 2017
Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:
Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.
Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.
Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.
When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.
The Nowhere Girls is an important book. A voice for girls, a book for change. It doesn’t pull it’s punches. This book is brutal, and sometimes horribly honest and upfront. At first I was slightly unsure about this book, it’s message, and where it was going, but by the end I was uplifted and reduced to tears. The Nowhere Girls is a book that provokes discussion that is vital for changing mindsets and empowering young women.
Three girls spark revolution at their high school when they create The Nowhere Girls – a group that protests their school’s misogynist culture in defence of one of their previous classmates who was brutally raped.
The Nowhere Girls is written in four alternating sections from the perspective of Grace, Rosina and Erin and one from ‘Us’. The Us chapters gives a voice to a range of girls, jumping from girl to girl, including the three main characters, as well as other named characters and other girls who remain nameless. Grace is the new girl in town. She feels abandoned and ignored after being rejected by all her old friends. The move has thrust her mother into the spotlight, while Grace feels more alone. When she hears about the girl who used to live in her house, who was brave enough to speak out about her attack but who was then run out of town, Grace knows she must do something. Rosina is an outsider, both in her conservative Mexican family who look down upon her dreams of becoming a punk rock star, and at school, where she feels she will never have the chance to catch the eye of her crush, a popular cheerleader. Rebelling is something she knows how to do, so she joins with Grace in creating the Nowhere Girls, hardly imagining the changes it will spark. Erin too is an outsider. People don’t understand her love of marine biology, her dislike of small talk, or her routines. For so long, her differences have defined her, but creating the Nowhere Girls finally unites the girls of Prescott High School.
I ranged from absolutely horrified to so proud and touched while reading this book. And the sad thing is, the events and thoughts portrayed in this book are true of the way in which so very many women are treated and the way in which many men think and act. Not all, of course, but many. But the way in which the girls pull together is simply wonderful. I also liked how there were some boys who supported the girls, who too wanted to stand up against the violent culture, and that, sadly realistically, there were some girls and women who stood against the Nowhere Girls.
This is an important book and I know that exposing belief systems like the ones discussed in this book is so important. It won’t go away if we just ignore it. And discussing it is the first step. But, at first, it wasn’t a book I enjoyed reading. Fortunately, I really enjoyed the second half. Everything comes together and ultimately readers are left with a hopeful ending. There was one storyline that wasn’t finished, but otherwise it was a really satisfying ending to what is an incredibly powerful book.
Recommended for mature readers. See my blog for more details, content advisory and reading age guide.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Sexual assault, rape, rape culture, misogyny, high school, bullying, LGBT, women and girls.
Reading age guide: Ages 14/15 and up.
Advisory: Drug references. Strong, very frequent sexual references – rape, mast********. Very frequent coarse language, f*** (80), sh** (58), bit** (15), assh*** (23), sl**(16), di** (3).
Published: 10 October 2017 by Simon Pulse.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 416 pages.
ISBN: 9781481481731, 1481481738