Posted in book reviews

The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

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.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality

NOT A SPOILER FREE REVIEW.

I REPEAT, NOT A SPOILER FREE REVIEW.

Impromptu buddy read with my good friend Emer.

I’m going to write this review in a list like fashion because a) I like lists and b) it’s a lot easier that way cos I have a shit ton to say:

To start off with, I was really enjoying this book. I was loving the diverse rep of the different girls – it wasn’t your typical straight, white American, main characters. We had a mix of ethnicity’s, sexuality’s, body types, mental health/disabilities and social standings. It was wonderful seeing a mixture of diverse characters, with none of them feeling like the “token” diverse character. (However, there were some issues with this . . . will talk about this later).

I liked that the parents in this were also a mixture. We had the single parents, the absent parents, the loving parents. I liked that. But I had issues (I will talk about this later).

This contained fabulous conversations on self-worth and acceptance, on consent, etc. There was one part where they had a conversation with each other where the girls are having a group discussion and are sharing their different views on sex. For example, some feel like they just have to, even if they don’t enjoy it, that it’s required of them (they question if sex should be pleasurable for them). Others share that they like sex and aren’t ashamed of saying what they want. It was an interesting conversation, and I loved seeing them talk about it. These conversations are so important, and should be have. I think it’s a sad thing that so many schools shy away on these conversations when they’re needed.

I liked the friendship between the girls. They had their ups and downs but they were supportive and accepting of each other even if they don’t fully understand. I loved seeing that. They weren’t petty or hateful or spiteful of each other – and although this can happen in real life friendships, it was great to see positive and supporting friendships in a YA.

So to sum up: I liked the conversations this had on consent/sex, female friendships, diverse rep and female empowerment.

Things I disliked/had an issue with:

I mentioned in the beginning that I liked the diverse rep of characters. Part of this was that we had different characters with different social standings. We had the popular cheerleaders that defied usual YA stereotypes of them being the popular, bitchy, snobby mean girls. We had them humanised. They were friendly, supportive. Others took on some of the mean side and perpetuated some of the YA trope – where they fed in to misogynist ideas and slut shaming, but this added depth to their characters: we allowed to see them transform.

HOWEVER.

This isn’t the case with all the characters, this development only happens to a few. The rest. . . ugh. Most of the men in this book were horrible pieces of crap. Most of them couldn’t be trusted, they’d start off decent and then reveal their *true colours* which would be a freaking dirtbag. (And the ones who were good were just underdeveloped and bland. They were basically the stock good guys).

One character I keep thinking about, and each time getting increasingly mad about, is Amber. Amber lives in a trailer park, and everyone at school thinks of her as a ‘slut’ because shes ‘easy’. Amber has had sex with multiple men. They text her, and she hooks up with them. But this is the sad part. Amber feels like because she’s earned this reputation as a slut that she is, that she has to act like that. She expects it of herself, that she can’t be anything other than what everyone says she is. I really thought that throughout this novel Amber would go from having low self-worth and believing that she deserves the names she called and not truly understanding consent, to gaining more self-acceptance and self love and realising that she doesn’t have to have sex with boys because it’s expected of her. Sex should be something that she wants, that she can enjoy – she isn’t just an object for men to use.

That’s what I wanted her to realise. Except, her character just seemed to regress. As soon as she’s rejected she turns spiteful, mean, and lashes out at everyone, basically falling into the stereotype that everyone was saying she was. What I wanted from this rejection was for her to realise that not everyone sees her as a sexual object but as a human being who has other qualities, and for her to then realise that herself. But nope. She was just written as a spiteful bitch and then nothing else was said about her. She served her plot purpose and it felt disgusting. Why give her such a backstory like this if your only intention is to use her as a cheap plot device but not actually develop her character?? ugh. ugh. ugh. Why couldn’t she evolve to believing that she has more value than being used for sex?? but that sex can be positive and pleasurable and that having multiple partners doesn’t decrease her value. ughhhhh. hope that makes sense. Basically I didn’t like that some characters just fed in to harmful stereotypes. Why introduce them with such backstory’s that have such potential, but to then not?? Makes me rage.

So the parents. While I initially liked that they were a mixture, I eventually got fed up with them. They were so stereotypical. The harsh, overworked single mother. The mother who stays with her husband and fakes happiness but really just stays at home all day miserable with no outside life, and then the out-there hippie like parents (they were my favourites out of them, but still. UGH UGH UGH).

This also got very theatrical and over the top. The school was basically policed?? with like assault guns?? it was ridiculous?? The girls couldn’t even talk in groups, they were constantly getting detention and expelled for NO REASON. They were basically being framed by the adult/authority figures and treated like a bunch of criminals. It was just too over done for me. Especially at the end with them all crowding in the police station and screaming and crying and cheering…

Ugh. I don’t know. The ending was just rushed and therefore everyone felt underdeveloped, and everything too over dramatic in order to create *the feels* and have a big impactful ending. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work.

I just don’t know…for most of the book this was looking to be 4 stars and now I’m

 

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I'm an avid book lover, tv watcher, and music listener. Welcome to my blog.

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