Nowhere Girl | A.J. Paquette
Walker Books for Young Readers
Luchi Ann only knows a few things about herself: she was born in a prison in Thailand. Her American mother was an inmate there. And now that her mother has died, Luchi must leave the only place she's ever known and set out into the world. Neither at home as a Thai, because of her fair skin and blond hair, nor as a foreigner, because of her knowledge of Thai life and traditions, Luchi feels as though she belongs nowhere. But as she embarks on an amazing adventure-a journey spanning continents and customs, harrowing danger and exhilarating experiences-she will find the family, and the home, she's always dreamed of. Weaving intricate elements of traditional Thailand into a modern-day fairy tale unique unto itself, Nowhere Girl is a beautifully rendered story of courage, resilience, and finding the one place where you truly belong.Multi-cultural middle grade, holla. There’s nothing better than spending a few days in a foreign country with that naive, wondered-by-discovery voice you get in middle grade fiction. Seeing the cover was enough to get me to add NOWHERE GIRL to my to-read list; the straw hat, the dark forest, and the Thai-looking temple in the background set the tone for an emotional story about a young girl in a world that seems so far away.
NOWHERE GIRL is about Luchi Ann, but don’t tell her I told you her name; she’ll get very upset. You see, Luchi Ann’s mother has just died, and one of the last pieces of advice she gave her daughter was: don’t tell anyone your real name. When her mother dies, Luchi Ann has a choice: stay in the Thai women’s prison in which she was born in, or leave. Go see the world. Be free.
Luchi Ann leaves. With no clue about her other family, why she seems to not be like the other people in Thailand (Luchi Ann is American), or why her mother was in the women’s prison in the first place. On the way to finding where she belongs, she discovers the secrets of her mother’s past. And they aren’t pretty.
So basically, I really freaking enjoyed this book. Luchi Ann is so desperate for guidance and love and a home, she’s so young, I couldn’t help but fall in love with her narration. I was awed by how incredibly brave she was, and the insurmountable hope she kept throughout the entire story.
I’ll admit, the story is a bit slow-moving. That doesn’t mean it’s boring, though. Ms. Paquette’s writing is so lovely, and her characters so emotionally real, that you flip and flip the pages and lose your sense of time, because you are in her story, experiencing everything Luchi Ann is and getting bruised and beat up along the way. NOWHERE GIRL is about a girl in search of a home, and it is beautiful.