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Nice Girls Endure

Review

Nice Girls Endure

Chelsea Duvay has a beautiful singing voice, is totally head-over-heels in love with musicals and wants to open her own shoe store someday. But no one at her high school would ever know that. All they see is an overweight, quiet and anxiety-ridden girl. When she is paired up with Melody Smiles, a funny and eccentrically-dressed classmate, to film an autobiography, Chelsea starts to realize that she does not have to spend all of high school with her head down, treading water...enduring. But when they go to the spring dance, Chelsea has a traumatic experience that changes her for good. After the dance, it is up to Chelsea to handle what has happened, what she should do now and how to endure --- but there is only so much a nice girl can take.

"I found NICE GIRLS ENDURE to be a very powerful and poignant novel....[It] shows you that everyone has a voice, and everyone deserves to have it heard."

Right from the start, I knew Chelsea was a main character I could relate to. I have never been too overweight, but I have always felt bigger than my female classmates --- always a little extra skin there or a little more chub everywhere. Now I know that every girl feels that way at one time or another. When Chelsea talked about the girls at school who could eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight, I knew exactly what she was talking about. I understood Chelsea and her insecurities, and that connection was the best part of this book for me.

Chris Struyk-Bonn, who is the author of 2014's WHISPER, is also a teacher for an alternative school that offers an online education for students with social anxiety, depression and other challenges. I learned this after I finished NICE GIRLS ENDURE and it made the book so much better. It was great to know that the feeling I got from Chelsea was actually real and genuine. I love when counselors and teachers write YA books because they understand teenagers. These books are never condescending and always come from a place of support and love. I got the same feeling after finishing NICE GIRLS ENDURE that I did when I finished SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli. Becky, now one of my favorite authors, is a clinical psychologist who has conducted therapy with dozens of teenagers. I know both Struyk-Bonn and Albertalli know what they are talking about and it comes across so beautifully.

This book did have some problems. The plot was a bit disjointed. There were a lot of flashbacks that did not flow in with the present story as well as they could have. Also, the writing was on the bland side, but that came with the blunt and straight-forward way the story was presented.

Overall, I found NICE GIRLS ENDURE to be a very powerful and poignant novel. At only 254 pages, it manages to get in, get out and leave you reeling. At times, it felt more like a PSA than a novel, but I think that was the point. NICE GIRLS ENDURE shows you that everyone has a voice, and everyone deserves to have it heard.

This book is perfect for fans of SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli for the love and understanding and DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy for the overweight main character representation.

Reviewed by Bryn D., Teen Board Member on August 12, 2016

Nice Girls Endure
by Chris Struyk-Bonn