Nice Girls Endure
Author: Christ Struyk-Bonn
Publication: August 1st, 2016
Publisher: Switch Press
Format: e-ARC, 256 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Mental Health
Read: August 2016
I received an e-ARC of this book from Capstone and Switch Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Chelsea Duvay is so many things.
She’s an avid musical lover, she s a gifted singer, and she has the most perfect, beautiful feet. But no one ever notices that. All they notice is Chelsea s weight. Daily, Chelsea endures endless comments about her appearance from well-meaning adults and cruel classmates. So she keeps to herself and just tries to make it through.
Don’t make waves. Don’t draw attention. That’s how life is for Chelsea until a special class project pushes the energetic and incessantly social Melody into Chelsea’s world. As their unlikely friendship grows, Chelsea emerges from her isolated existence, and she begins to find the confidence to enjoy life.
But bullies are bullies, and they remain as vicious as ever. One terrible encounter threatens to destroy everything Chelsea has worked so hard to achieve. Readers will be captivated by Chelsea s journey as she discovers the courage to declare her own beauty and self-worth, no matter what others might think.
Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
This is a contemporary, coming of age story that follows a young teenage girl in her day to day life. I had a hard time getting into the story at first but once I was through the first quarter, I became invested in the main character and her life. This story is all about family, friendships, coping with and having anxiety, body acceptance, self-esteem and being honest with the world and with yourself. I think it can be a very powerful book for someone.
Writing Style – 3 out of 5 stars
The writing style turned me off at first. It’s simple and the sentences as well as the chapters are really short. I found it jarring sometimes but once I got used to the main character’s thought process it was easier to see the benefits of the writing style. While it reads very young and sometimes immature and childish, it’s also really easy to read. There are parts that are really endearing and as a whole has a very powerful message.
Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
There’s quite a few characters in this book but the main character Chelsea is definitely the focus of everything. I didn’t like her at first as was the case with most of the book. She was quiet, shy and anxious. Supposedly she was accepting of herself but not enough to stand up against the people who weren’t. However, as the story goes on, she grows and matures in different ways. She’s passionate about the things she loves and honest and open. While her journey was a little rough, I really like her character development and the culmination of her story. All the side characters are special in their own way, whether that’s in a good or bad way. But I felt that most of them were there to help Chelsea through her journey and their presence wasn’t as organic as I would’ve liked. However, they were likable and endearing and sometimes even funny and entertaining which I appreciated and made my enjoy the story a lot more than I probably would have otherwise.
I was immediately turned off when I started reading this book, everything about it was off putting but it slowly won me over.
The plot is honest. We follow Chelsea, a sixteen year old whose been told throughout her life that she’s fat and that that is something she has to change even though she doesn’t want to. First thing I want to say is that this book is not for me. I know that and I accept that, and it’s probably why I didn’t enjoy it as much. I have the kind of body the body positivity movement skips over. The kind of body that the majority of YA protagonists have and that is a subject of disdain from a lot of people because of that fact. So I didn’t expect to connect which Chelsea whose story is all about accepting her size. And yet I still managed to do it. Because believe it or not, skinny girls sometimes hate their bodies too. And I might not have connected with how Chelsea’s life is (because mine has never been as hard) or with her personality (because I may be shy in the beginning but I have a hidden extrovert who comes out to play a lot) but her journey resonated with me. The journey she embarked on to learn not only to accept herself but to be proud of herself too. To stand up for yourself because you deserve to be respected and accepted just as you are. I’m still learning that lesson, I’m still learning that lesson, and while it’s a lot harder than this book meant it to be, Chelsea’s story inspired me to work a little harder at being happy with just how I look, with just how I am, and with just how I live.
I wanted to talk about something that made me a little uncomfortable and that was the use of anxiety medication that Chelsea had. There’s nothing wrong with seeking medication from those kinds of issue though I’ve made a personal choice against it in my case for different reasons, but the way she used it made me uncomfortable. It was almost like a crutch for her and though it got straightened out, I wish it would’ve been handled a different way.
I really loved Chelsea’s character development. At first I found her annoying. She had a tendency to judge the people around her. Whether or not they were good or bad people doesn’t really matter, judging someone by their looks is what she wants people to stop doing to her so I didn’t think it was okay for her to do it to someone else. And she had always asked why people criticized her weight, she explained how she was comfortable with it, but never stood up to people and told them exactly that. It was so incredibly frustrating. But she improved, she developed, she grew. She learned to open up and trust people. She learned to express herself and to do the things she loved to do without caring about anyone else. And she learned to be honest and to stand up for herself the only way she knew how, creatively. And I loved that.
I wanted to talk about the side characters briefly because although they don’t have a big spotlight in this book, they are important in Chelsea’s life. Melody is Chelsea’s first friend ever it seems and I absolutely loved her. She’s hyper and honest and genuine and just accepting of Chelsea and of herself. It’s kind of like their set backs balance each other out and I love how their friendship was developed and portrayed. Chelsea’s Dad was also amazing. The guy whom she gets her thicker genes from, he loves her just as she is and is kind of like her best friend and biggest supporter. I love their relationship though it had its ups and downs. When it comes to her Mom however, I just felt a lot of pity. That woman has so much more going on inside herself and she tries to fix the outside to make the inside feel better and it’s so sad. I’m glad Chelsea wasn’t sucked in completely by that mentality but there were moments when I just wanted to wrap her mom in a hug. Trevor makes a very small appearance in the general sense of things and I’m glad because the story wasn’t about him and Chelsea, it was just about her. Nice tidbit to add but not completely necessary. I felt like the bullies in her life were bullies for the sake of being bullies, all except for one. And while there are cases like that, most of the times I think of bullies as people with their own struggles who are not how to deal with them and they project those onto other people. Their motivation was very simple yet effective.
Overall, I liked the book a lot more than I thought I was going to. I still feel like this kind of story is not for me, but for someone who can relate to Chelsea’s life a lot more, it may leave them with a powerful and intense message. I loved her character development and the journey which she went through even there harsher moments. The writing style is very short and simple but once you become accustomed, it makes it easy to connect with the main character. The side characters could’ve been more fleshed out but they served their purpose. I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoy coming of age stories.
So that’s it for this review! Let me know if you’ve heard of this book before and if you are hoping to read it. Let me know what you think of my thoughts. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!