This book came at a weird time for me. I am a mood reader, as I’ve mentioned in the past posts, and I wasn’t feeling the vibe of this book when I started reading it. But I had about four days before my ARC was going to expire and disappear, and I wanted to read it soon-ish, so I pushed through. I’m really glad I did, because this book affected me. I read almost half of it in one sitting and then fell asleep and was dreaming that I was in that high school, freaked out like the rest of the girls, and… man. The Nowhere Girls is a powerful book.
In the small town of Prescott, Oregon, there was an incident last year. But here’s the thing – it wasn’t like it was a new thing that happened. The only reason it was an incident was because someone talked.
Lucy Moynihan was gang-raped at a party and went to the police. She knew who did it, but no one believed her, and she was bullied at school for accusing three of her classmates until her family had to leave town. No one know what happened to her. She just vanished.
Then Grace moves into her house, into Lucy’s room, and she finds messages left behind by Lucy. Grace doesn’t really fit in in Prescott either, and she befriends two other misfits – Rosina, the Latina lesbian who wants to be a punk rocker, and Erin, the nerdy girl on the spectrum. The three of them want to start something, want to protect the rest of the school, but they know no one would listen to them. So they decide to do it anonymously, and they call themselves The Nowhere Girls.
The rest of the book follows the group of girls as they fight back against the patriarchy, against small town politics, and against rape culture. It’s told from varying perspectives, and the voices are unique and wonderful and I loved everything about it once I was in the story. Like I said, it affected me. And I think it’s going to affect others just the same.
3 Things I Loved
It feels like cheating to put the three main characters as the three things I loved, but it’s true. They made the story for me.
- Erin. Of the three of them, I found Erin to be the most powerful character. Between her own past trauma and her diagnosis as on the autism spectrum, Erin is a bit of an enigma to the other girls. But as a reader, you get to be in her head, and you see how she’s functioning perfectly. I especially loved how Erin interacted with Otis.
- Rosina. Of the three of them, I found Rosina to be the most relatable for me, personally. She’s Mexican, but she wants to be more than a part of her family. I’m only half, but I’ve seen that, and I’ve felt that, and her storyline with her mother was real and relatable. I could see some people thinking her family is blowing things out of proportion, but that’s real shit. I especially loved Rosina and Melissa’s scenes together.
- Grace. If anyone is a saving grace to this town, it’s Grace Salter. She mobilizes these apathetic girls to start sticking together and doing something about the shit in their town. She talks openly about why she is choosing to wait for love to lose her virginity without shaming anyone, and she listens and participates in conversations about other people’s sexuality. She is kind. She is empathetic. She is the catalyst that changes everything in this town. I LOVED HER.
First, I want to be clear to anyone who may be thinking about reading this. There are heavy content warnings for rape, sexual assault, and abuse throughout the entire book. The plot hinges on these things. Please take care of yourselves.
I mean, the premise of the book is inherently problematic, but that’s the point. There are these three high school boys who are repeatedly violently raping girls and getting away with it, because they’re football players. Because they’re popular. Because no one would believe that they could do such a thing. There were chapters that were hard to read. But that is the nature of the conversation that Amy Reed is trying to have.
I have also seen some reviews that say that readers had to suspend their beliefs in order to get through some parts of the book, particularly on behalf of the adults. But listen. If you think that this shit doesn’t happen, you have never lived in a small town. There is something about living in a place where everyone knows everyone. It’s great when good things happen and shit when something bad goes down, because you can’t turn your back on a friend, right? This is what I mean when I talk about small town politics as one of the opponents that the Nowhere Girls are up against. In order for things to change, the adults need to admit that something is wrong with their perfect haven in the first place. Isn’t it just easier to blame the girl who is a nobody rather than the boys who might be somebodies someday?
Yeah, that shit happens.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good, but not something I’d reread
- Blue = Oh my gosh, everyone should be reading this book
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart
I’m giving The Nowhere Girls a solid GREEN rating. While I found it to be wonderful, and powerful, and necessary, I don’t think it’s the book for everyone. Like I mentioned before, please take care of yourselves. ❤
Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for the advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion in any way.