BookBrowse Reviews The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Nowhere Girls

by Amy Reed

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed X
The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2017, 416 pages

    Jul 2019, 432 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Cynthia C. Scott
Buy This Book

About this Book



The Nowhere Girls is an indictment of rape culture that explores deep questions about teen girls and sexuality.

Grace Salter, the daughter of a preacher with progressive politics, has recently moved to Prescott, Oregon. Here she meets Rosina Suarez, a Mexican-American lesbian with a troubled home life and dreams of starting a rock band. Rosina's friend, Erin DeLillo, is a marine biology buff with Asperger's who wishes she was an android. Binding the three together is Lucy Moynihan, a teen whose family was forced to leave town after local authorities refused to prosecute the high school jocks who raped her. When Grace learns of Lucy's plight, she enlists Rosina and Erin to seek justice at their school — they name their trio, The Nowhere Girls.

This is Amy Reed's sixth YA novel; the story is an incisive look at rape culture and female empowerment. The chapters alternate between Grace, Rosina, and Erin, the rest of the female student body, and the misogynist blog entries of a Men's Rights Advocate who may or may not be one of Lucy's rapists.

The story picks up steam when The Nowhere Girls enlist other members by sending out an email to all the girls at Prescott High School. Only a few show up at their first secret meeting, but when one of the girls takes action and puts up posters calling out the sexist culture, The Nowhere Girls gain more interest and scrutiny. The boys at the school take notice after the girls launch a sex strike, refusing to sleep with them until they change their behavior. Their actions force the school to come to grips with the toxic masculinity of rape culture and the way the school's principal is more interested in keeping order than protecting her young female students.

The novel's most affecting moments occur when the girls' home lives collide with their activism as they carve out identities from familial expectations. Both Rosina and Erin struggle to connect with their mothers, each of whom pressures her daughter to be good and normal. Grace also feels self-imposed stress to live up to her parents' expectations, but the young women refuse to be good or normal, which, according to society, means acquiescing and remaining silent. For Rosina and Erin, factors of race, sexuality, and disability make them easy targets for abuse. Their personal fears add layers of pressure as they decide whether to fight back or stay silent. But strength comes in unity, and each girl overcomes her fears and empowers herself in the fight for justice.

While the novel focuses largely on the three main characters, it offers space for the voices of other female students. In chapters titled "US," we see a diversity of ideas about tactics, feminism, sex, and men in general. Topics like intersectionality and sex positivity are also broached, though, at times the novel falls to the White Feminism tropes it attempts to evade. Aside from Rosina, all the girls who resist and all the rape survivors are white and cisgendered. While the novel purports to speak for all girls— "[The cheering] is all the girls, all their voices, calling out as loud as they can"—only a transgender girl named Adele and an unnamed Black girl are given two separate paragraphs to make room for diversity. As a Black woman and aunt of a teenage Black girl, I found this exclusion to be the most frustrating of all.

The lack of diversity is a major flaw, and yet, given the few works of fiction for adults and young adults that tackle rape culture, The Nowhere Girls is still compelling, with richly drawn characters and important themes of empowerment and personal growth. Like the girls themselves, it hopes to be provocative, to spark outrage, and start conversations. On that level, it succeeds.

Reviewed by Cynthia C. Scott

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in November 2017, and has been updated for the September 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Real-Life Nowhere Girls

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    by Jabari Asim
    The captivating historical novel Yonder turns an intimate lens towards the tragedy and survivorship ...
  • Book Jacket: After Sappho
    After Sappho
    by Selby Wynn Schwartz

    "Someone will remember us, I say, even in another time."
    —Sappho, fragment ...

  • Book Jacket: City Under One Roof
    City Under One Roof
    by Iris Yamashita
    When a disembodied arm and leg wash ashore in Point Mettier, Alaska, most residents assume they ...
  • Book Jacket: We Deserve Monuments
    We Deserve Monuments
    by Jas Hammonds
    Jas Hammonds' debut young adult novel We Deserve Monuments provides a fresh look at the coming-of-...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Mitford Affair
by Marie Benedict
An explosive novel of history's most notorious sisters, one of whom will have to choose: her country or her family?

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    by Wendell Steavenson

    A young woman struggles to break free of her upper-class upbringing amid the whirlwind years of the sexual revolution.

  • Book Jacket

    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    by Jamila Minnicks

    "Jamila Minnicks pulled me into pages of history I'd never turned before."—Barbara Kingsolver

  • Book Jacket

    Wade in the Water
    by Nyani Nkrumah

    A gripping debut novel of female power and vulnerability, race, and class set in a small Mississippi town in the early 1980s.


Solve this clue:

C To T Q

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

Not doing more than the average is what keeps the average down.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.