I started reading this book with no real expectations about it. And then IT BLEW MY MIND.
Synopsis (Goodreads): Who are the Nowhere Girls? They’re every girl. 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.
Review: This book is by far one of the most powerful stories I have ever read. It is a book that deals with so many different issues like rape and rape culture, sex positivity and choosing to be sexually active or not, sexual identity, ableism, racial discrimination, and biased school systems – and these are just a few!
The story is told mainly from the perspective of 3 girls: Grace, Rosina, and Erin. But there are also sections of the story called “Us” and they are from the perspective of various female characters in the book, that remain unnamed. I absolutely loved this approach. Not only did the author give us central characters to focus on and form connections with, she was also able to showcase various other perspectives. By creating anonymity through these voiceless other girls, she allowed other readers to put themselves in their place. It worked for me on so many levels, and gave me the chance to see so many different outlooks on various topics.
The main characters themselves were perfect choices for the story. Grace comes from a religious background, what with her mother being a pastor, and her views were about how her faith influences her choices. I really loved this angle and the way that the author developed Grace; she doesn’t blindly accept beliefs but tries to question them and analyze them so that they are relevant to her current life. These are things that I try to do daily with regards to my own religious views, and it was heartening to see an open-minded and faith-oriented character. I also loved that Grace, while being considered “fat”, never focused on her body issues. Her body did not become the main focal point, and that gave room for the reader to focus on her personality and thoughts.
Rosina comes from an immigrant family and struggles with her sexual orientation. Her worries that her mother will not accept that Rosina has feelings for women is a concern that I think many teens can face. Through her character, we get a glimpse of what it feels like to be marginalized, not only for your sexual preference but also for your race and immigration status.
Erin has Asperger’s Syndrome and her character deals with the struggles that come with being labelled. She has feelings, she has thoughts, and she wants to be able to show that Asperger’s in no ways limits her as a person. I loved how defiant she was about this label, how strongly she would say that this is a part of her that she would never change. There are plenty of times when someone says “I’m so sorry” when they hear about a child who has autism or Asperger’s and it bothers me a lot, because there is nothing to be sorry about. This person is still a person, who has wonderful gifts to offer the world, just like every other human being. Erin embodies this sentiment, and her experiences show that she is just like everyone else – and deserves to be treated that way.
I don’t want to speak too much since I don’t want to ruin this story, but it is an absolutely stunning read. Amy Reed is not afraid to pack the punches and this book has so many of them. I think that everything that this novel covers is relevant to people today – not just girls – and I would want everyone to read this. It’s a near perfect book for me, and I’m giving this a 5/5 stars.