Nice Girls Endure
by Chris Struyk-Bonn
Chelsea’s memories of being whispered about, teased, taunted, and treated as “different” go back to third grade and the torment never let up. We meet Chelsea in high school. Her weight problems have not changed and the negative ways people, especially other teenagers, treat her have only intensified. She has no friends and has developed a fake exterior to help her survive. After all, “nice girls endure.”
Chris Struyk-Bonn chose a first person narration of Chelsea’s story, Nice Girls Endure. It seems only appropriate that Chelsea should get to tell her own story, and the effect is very personal. We get to hear of the nightmare of being bullied because of being overweight and how it affects every aspect of her life. This is a Young Adult book, but is so well-written that even as an adult I strongly empathize with Chelsea and was anxious to see her work through her problems.
The chapters are short and the pace is fast. The characters are well-developed and provide Chelsea with opportunities to see various ways others deal with weight issues and bullying. In the end she makes her own decisions about her life and future. Meanwhile the reader feels almost a part of the story. I was ready to take out a few unkind souls myself. My favorite character is one of Chelsea’s classmates, Melody. She knows how to be herself and knows how to be a friend.
This book is not just about being overweight. It is about being different. It is not just about being bullied, it is also about bullying. I hope that anyone who reads Nice Girls Endure will come away with a greater awareness of and sensitivity to those who are different. Everyone has positive attributes and deserves an opportunity to let their talents shine. There are many negative ways to deal with peers who are labeled “different,” from outright physical and emotional attacks to more subtle teasing, smirking, and exclusion, to totally ignoring the person. In this story, even teachers were guilty of the less overt responses, but their actions or ignoring the actions of others hurt just as much.
This was a quick book to read, but I recommend it for Young Adult and Adult readers. You will probably come away with more thoughtful and understanding attitudes towards those who don’t easily fit into society’s boxes.
Note: The book contains a sprinkling of mild swearing and an occurrence of sexual aggression and is therefore inappropriate for younger readers.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Capstone Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.