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

    Paperback:
    Jul 2019, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Cynthia C. Scott
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US.

Prescott, Oregon.

Population: 17,549. Elevation: 578 feet above sea level. Twenty miles east of Eugene and the University of Oregon. One hundred thirty miles southeast of Portland. Halfway between a farm town and a suburb. Home of the Spartans (Go Spartans!).

Home of so many girls. Home of so many almost-women, waiting for their skin to fit.


The U-Haul truck opens its sliding door for the first time since Adeline, Kentucky, unleashing the stale air from the small southern town that used to be Grace Salter's home, back when her mother was still a dutiful Baptist church leader (though not technically a "pastor," because as a woman in a church belonging to the Southern Baptist Convention, she could not technically claim the official title, nor its significantly higher pay grade, even with her PhD in Ministry and more than a decade of service). Everything in Grace's life changed when Mom fell off that horse and bumped her head and suffered the concussion and subsequent spiritual experience that, according to Mom's version of events, freed her mind and helped her hear the true voice of the Lord and, according to Grace's version of events, got them booted out of Adeline and ruined their lives.

Couches, beds, and dressers are in their approximate positions in the new house. Grace's mother starts unpacking the kitchen. Dad searches on his phone for pizza delivery. Grace climbs steep, creaking stairs to the room she has never seen before today, the room Mom and Dad only saw in photos their real estate agent sent them, the room she knows is meant to be hers because of the yellow wall paint and purple flower decals.

She sits on the stained twin mattress she's had since she was three and wants nothing more than to curl up and fall asleep, but she doesn't know where her sheets are. After five days of nonstop driving, fast food, and sharing motel rooms with her parents, she wants to shut the door and not come out for a long time, and she certainly doesn't want to sit on boxes of dishes while eating pizza off a paper towel.

She lies on her bed and looks at the bare ceiling. She studies a water-damaged corner. It is early September, still technically summer, but this is Oregon, known for its year-round wetness, something Grace learned during her disappointing Web searches. She wonders if she should try to find a bucket to put on the floor in anticipation of a leak. "Be prepared." Isn't that the Boy Scout motto? She wouldn't know; she had been a Girl Scout. Her troop learned how to do things like knit and make marzipan.

Grace turns her head to look out the window, but her eyes catch texture beneath the peeling white lip of the frame. Carved words, like a prisoner's inside a cell, through layers of peeling yellow, then blue, then white, the fresh words sliced through decades of paint:

Kill me now.
I'm already dead.

Grace's breath catches in her throat as she stares at the words, as she reads the pain of a stranger who must have lived and breathed and slept in this room. Was their bed in this very same place? Did their body already carve out this position in space where Grace's body lies now?

How intimate these tiny words are. How alone a person must feel to cry out to someone they can't even see.


Across town, Erin DeLillo is watching Season Five, Episode Eleven, of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The title of this episode is "Hero Worship." It's about a traumatized, orphaned boy who becomes emotionally attached to Lieutenant Commander Data, an android. The boy admires Data's superior intelligence and speed, but perhaps even more, he wishes he shared Data's lack of ability to experience human emotions. If the boy were an android, he wouldn't be so sad and lonely. If he were an android, he wouldn't feel responsible for the careless mistake that tore his ship apart and killed his parents.

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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