The Nowhere Girls

416p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481481731. POP
RedReviewStarGr 9 Up—This gritty and timely novel examines the culture of sexism and rape through the eyes of three girls and a chorus of the universal "Us." Grace, the new girl in town, just wants to blend in to the point of invisibility. Having been forced out of their conservative Southern Baptist Church when her preacher mother becomes "too liberal," Grace is still reeling from the ostracism and is struggling to figure out who she is and what she should believe. Rosina, the daughter of a very conservative Mexican American single mother, spends her days babysitting her younger cousins and working in her family's restaurant. What she really wants is recognition as a gay punk rocker who needs more from life. Erin, a teen on the high-functioning side of the autism spectrum, consumes herself with marine biology and Star Trek while wrestling with appropriate emotions and reactions and an overly involved mother. "Us" iterates the thoughts, fears, and conflicts of a chorus of unnamed characters. When Grace discovers that her new room was also the room of Lucy, the girl who accused a group of popular boys of gang rape last year, she convinces Erin and Rosina to help her get justice for Lucy. Neither one is particularly enthusiastic about the idea, but slowly an anonymous group of "Nowhere Girls" begin to attack the sexist culture of their school despite negative reactions. The strong characters do not detract from the equally strong plot but move it forward with compassion and strength as they address with frank honesty what it means to be female in today's world. The empowerment of the girls in this book will resonate with young adults.
VERDICT A must-read for every teen.

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