November 3, 2017

On Taking Stands and Being Heard: Macky Reads The Nowhere Girls

Trigger warning. In fact, lots and lots of trigger warnings. The Nowhere Girls is all too close to real. I have known some girls that have gone through similar things and the stories of the girls in this book are a beautiful, yet no holds barred account of that terrible side of human society where misogyny, ignorance and secrecy ravage the lives of women and girls. In spite of the casual tone and well-crafted words this book may speak in, there are scenes and events that are not necessarily graphic, but they are crystal clear in the pictures they paint. I cannot stress enough how triggering this could possibly be for anyone who has gone through such scenarios.

That said, the 'nowhere girls' Grace, Rosina and Erin will take you on a journey that I personally found more harrowing than any of the other books I read: navigating high school and the sexual predators therein. Grace moves to this new town, where the previous resident of her current house had to move away because she dared speak of the terrible abuse she suffered at the hands of the local football team and was run out of town for her troubles. She then bands together with Rosina and Erin, local misfits to reach out to all the girls in school to band together around one simple spirit: that women be treated with the respect they are due by ending rape culture. From there, the story plays out like an urban fairy tale where the girls, cloaked in anonymity, begin to wage war on rape culture with a majority united front. Banners with powerful statements and incriminating declarations begin popping up at school and the adults that covered up the recent scandal do their best to crack down on the “hurtful propaganda and bullying campaign” waged against the “good young men” of Prescott High. 

Maybe not all high schools are the perfect storm of rape culture the way Grace, Rosina and Erin’s high school is, but I have no doubts that the terrible things that have happened to the girls here happen mostly everywhere. And that, to m,e is why this book riveted me to my very core. Because I know that, at that age, I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to take a stand (and perhaps a beating) just so some girls I don’t know too well could get the justice they deserve. I know that I would have been scared. 

But I also know that if there were more of us standing together, I may have been braver. High school kids terrify me more than monsters and demons. Adults complicit in the propagation of injustices inflicted on school kid are a close second to what scares me most in life. So needless to say, this is the scariest book I have read in my life. 

How I wish things would resolve in real life for people who need justice the way our 'nowhere girls' were able to scramble their way towards the hard decisions they had to make. But this book is a tale that proves an age old human thing: if enough of us band together and overcome fear, we can at least make a dent in the darkness that tries to consume us from the shadows of polite culture and hurtful traditions. 

The Nowhere Girls is an ode to consent. A love song to basic human rights. A defiant stand against the prevalent culture that victim blames instead of protecting. The Nowhere Girls comes out October 10, 2017. It’s not a perfect story and I don’t have all the answers on how to make the world better. But if you brace yourself and read it, it may remind us at least that there is indeed strength in numbers and that there are things worth fighting for if we would just be brave enough to stand up for it, and smart enough to stand together.

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse | Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Source: ARC received at BEA 2017 (Thanks!)


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