Excerpt from The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Nowhere Girls

by Amy Reed

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed X
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2017, 416 pages
    Jul 2019, 432 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Cynthia C. Scott
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

On the other side of the highway, a girl has sex with her boyfriend for the second time ever. This time it doesn't hurt. This time she moves her hips. This time she starts to understand what all the fuss is about.

In the next town over, two best friends kiss. One says, "You have to promise to never tell." The other thinks, I want to tell everyone.

One girl watches TV. Another plays video games. Others work parttime jobs or catch up on their summer reading lists. Some wander aimlessly around the mall in Eugene, hoping to get noticed.

One girl looks at the sky, imagines riding the clouds to somewhere new. One digs in the earth, imagines an underground tunnel like a freeway.

In another state, an invisible girl named Lucy Moynihan tries to forget a story that will define her for the rest of her life, a story no one claimed to believe.


The problem is, even when she ruins your life, it's kind of hard to hate your mom when she's perfect. And not "perfect" with flippy air fingers and an ironic teen accent. Perfect as in practically a saint, like almost literally. Except, technically, you have to be Catholic to become a saint, which Grace's family is not. But what are they, exactly? Certainly not Baptists anymore. Are they Congregationalists now? Is that even a thing?

Grace's father said Prescott, Oregon, would be more in line with their family's values than Adeline, Kentucky. He has a special gift for putting a positive spin on things that suck. He's in marketing, after all. For instance, seeing a benefit in having to move away from the only home Grace has ever known because their (former) church pretty much drove them out of town. This, Dad interpreted as an opportunity to show fortitude and resilience. It was also a great motivation to improve their skills of clipping coupons, minimizing toilet paper usage, and finding new variations of rice and beans while Mom looked for a new job and Grace tried to get through a day of school without crying in public. While her parents practiced their fortitude and resilience, Grace practiced pretending to not be too upset that every friend she had, most of them since preschool years, threw her to the curb because her mom fell off a horse and bumped her head and refound God to be a way more liberal guy than everyone in their church wanted Him to be.

Mom's first mistake in the church was being a woman, which happened way before she bumped her head. Many of the old white folks (in a congregation that was mostly old white folks) crossed their arms in front of their chests and frowned during her guest sermons, waiting for the real pastor to take over and do the real preaching. Even before the head bump, she was a little too chipper for their tastes, a little too into the love business. So they were primed and ready for all hell to break loose when she went and married those two gay guys who owned the dog salon. In her last sermon before she got the boot, in addition to reminding the congregation of the annoying fact that Jesus loved and accepted everyone without judgment, she alluded to his being a brown-skinned socialist. There was even a rumor around town that someone overheard her exclaim, "Fuck Leviticus!" while she was pruning roses in her yard.

So, just like that, after years of service, Grace's mom was out of her job as director of women's activities and guest speaker at Great Redeemer First Baptist megachurch, instantly reviled and hated by nearly seven thousand parishioners from Adeline and the neighboring three counties. Dad had just started his online marketing business and wasn't making any money yet. But worse than being suddenly poor was being suddenly friendless in a small town where everybody was friends. No one would sit by Grace at lunch. Graffiti started showing up on her locker, the strangest of which was "Slut" and "Whore," since she was, and is, still very much a virgin. That's just what you call girls when you want to shame them. So Grace spent what remained of the school year eating lunch alone in the gym bathroom, talking to no one throughout the day except the occasional teacher, and her parents had no idea. Mom was too busy trying to find a new job and Dad was too busy trying to find clients; Grace knew her pain wasn't something they needed to talk about.

Excerpted from The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed. Copyright © 2017 by Amy Reed. Excerpted by permission of Simon Pulse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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