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Nowhere Girl

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  309 ratings  ·  73 reviews
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 tradit
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Walker Childrens
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3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  309 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Sep 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, kids, mystery, thailand
As I was walking through the exhibit floor at ALA Annual, I chanced to pick up an advance reader’s copy for a children’s book that had some very nice art on the cover, a definite rarity for ARCs. I browsed through the blurbs, and discovered that this particular children’s book is about a girl who grew up in a Thai women’s prison.

I dare you to say no to a children’s book set in a Thai women’s prison. If you say you aren’t interested in how that turns out, you’re a filthy liar.

Naturally, being a c
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
The plot is fascinating---a young girl grows up in a Thai prison until her mother dies. Then, on her own, and without any knowledge of the world "outside", she must find a place for herself.
I liked it quite a bit, but the end was a bit too pat and rushed. Although she claims her life is not a fairy-tale, the ending was rather Disney-esque.
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A.J. Paquette does an excellent job of weaving a story about a young girl who grows up in a Thai prison where mother is being held. When her mother dies, Luchi must find her way to America where she has heard she might have some relatives. The simple story of return is marked with the unique voice of a young girl who is sensitive and kind and discovering her way in the world. A beautiful, tender book.
Julie Scott
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I was hoping given the setting. The idea of a child knowing only the world of a Thai womens' prison being suddenly sent out into an unfamiliar world was intriguing. I did enjoy the characters and the writing, but I think the world of the story was the big problem for me. For a start, I don't know a lot about Thai prisons but I don't imagine they are particularly nice places, but everyone in this prison was helpful, kind and extremely honest, both inmates and w ...more
Born in a prison in northern Thailand to an American mother serving time for drug possession, Luchi is suddenly on her own after her mother dies of a fever, leaving her with only questions about who she is and where she belongs. Though I found it hard to believe that the prison authorities wouldn't inform the US Embassy of her existence, and the ending is a bit too fairy tale, the book is an exciting and compelling read. The toe-dipping into Thai culture is wonderful.
Nicole Tester
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's nice to read a young adult novel that isn't full of teen angst. I rather enjoyed this book.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this!!!!! It’s so good. Anyway, I thought it was so interesting and I never got bored, some of the parts you get really exciting. The end wraps up perfectly. A. J. Paquette, PLEASE write a sequel! This is one of the best books EVER! 5/5 stars!
Emily V
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book!!! This is an amazing story about a girl who grew up in a woman’s prison, in Thailand, but when her mom dies it is time for Luchi Ann to discover the world. This is a book you can read over and over. There is the right amount of mystery and adventure. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story!!!
Leslie Preddy
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: grades 6-9
Nowhere girls is a modern fairy tale full of adventure and mystery. It begins in the far-off land of Thailand about an American girl born and raised in a Thai prison. The actual prisoner, her mother, has died and now Luchi is set free on a quest to find out who she is and where she belongs. In the mix with the fear of the unknown world and how to navigate is her need to tread carefully because she must keep herself and her mother's secrets safe. Set free from the prison, so much is a new experie ...more
Lea Wait
Apr 15, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adam Heine
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am so impressed with this book. The writing is BEAUTIFUL, as is the portrayal of Thailand. I love how the author showed all sides of this country: the kindly grandmother, the kind relatives who still worry about how others think of them, the well-meaning (but sometimes deceitful) cousin, the girl who is perfectly kind to your face -- and means it -- but is also ripping you off because you're a farang. I loved all these characters.

I love this book. Go read it.
Apr 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
NOWHERE GIRL is so beautifully written that I'd recommend it based on the writing alone. However, there is so much more to it. This novel has it all: beautiful writing, a unique setting, a character on a self-discovery quest facing a mounting set of obstacles. I was crossing my fingers for the young heroine, Luchi, up until the end!
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read a draft of this book early on, and it is stunning. A girl who has lived her whole life inside a Thai prison faces a frightening and uncertain future when her mother dies and she must find her way on the outside, alone. Beautiful, evocative, and full of rich language that lingers long after the book is closed.
Kiirsi Hellewell
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
The premise of this book is so different and so fascinating. I was enthralled with everything until about 4/5 of the way through...and then things started to fall apart a bit. I wanted the ending to be much longer and not wrapped up so easily. But the first part was really great. I especially loved all the parts in Thailand.
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-fiction, favorites
This is a beautiful book. I'd recommend it for those who are grieving and those who feel they don't belong anywhere.
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
Yes, the premise is depressing. Yes, Luchi's path is difficult. But there is an overall sense of hope. Be brave. Read it.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars


Luchi has lived her entire life in the Khon Mueang Women's Prison in Thailand. She looks farang (foreign), like her inmate mother, but she is culturally Thai, so she feels like a citizen of nowhere. Her mother was imprisoned for drug possession, but Luchi knows nothing of her mother beyond these confining walls. Her mother is a secret, hiding herself behind bars, finding safety in the anonymity. She only reveals small pieces, enough bread crumbs for Luchi to follow after her mother p
Catina Haverlock
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Paquette's writing is really beautiful, lyrical almost. I'm wondering if she' actually visited Thailand to research, because her descriptions of Bangkok and the country of Thailand are awesome. The story had so much potential and much of it was endearing and really made you think - especially because this story is told from the perspective of a child who has spent her entire life in a prison with her mom. Paquette does a great job of showing how new, and scary and exhilerating even the most simp ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. I can identify to it so well.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Nice story about finding one's inner strength, when no one knows who you are and you have almost nothing in this world.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ncbla, fairy-tales
In this modern version of a Cinderella story that begins in a Thai prison and ends in a posh San Francisco high-rise hotel, Luchi must make her way in the world after her American mother dies. A mystery surrounds her mother, and Luchi knows very little about her mother's background or her own father. When she leaves the prison to find her family, she has only a few clues and some money provided by a friend of her mother. While staying in Bangkok, a woman she has come to trust as a friend, takes ...more
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ali-s-shelf
After reading this book, I passed it on to my 12yo daughter who seems to dislike any book I've passed to her up until this one. She began reading and behold she said she likes it so far.

The story is adorable and captivating.

Luchi is born in a Thai prison. Her family and security are the women there to include the guards. Unexpectedly, her mother dies and she is thrust into the world to make her way. All she has are a few clues given to her as she prepares to leave the prison.

This child must som
Oct 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
First of all, I am in love with this cover! I think it is beautiful, mysterious and instantly grabs at you.

This book is one that will absolutely catch you by surprise. Just reading the synopsis of Paquette's novel will not do this book justice. Sure, it reads as a decent novel - a young girl born in a prison in Thailand - tries to find here way home, wherever "home" may be. Sounds so-so, right? You might or might not want to read it after that.

Well, I'd like to be the first to inform you that
Sarah Azibo
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sarah by: Tricia
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2012 added it
I was interested to read this novel set in Thailand, but the narrator's voice did not ring true to me (she sounds more like a thoughtful, philosophical adult than an impetuous adolescent) as early as page two: "It's no fairy tale, this life of mine. It's no dream. I'm just an ordinary girl born into a web of secrets, trying to unravel it strand by strand. Trying, somehow, to find my way out." If the book was written in a more fantastic magical realism style, the narration, as well as the improba ...more
H.A. Mims
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as part of a 2015 reading challenge: "Choose a book based entirely on the cover."
The cover art truly is exquisite, and a wonderful representation of the story within.

Other than that,I liked this book very much, though I agree with a couple points other reviewers have made. The ending did feel rushed, and I felt that issues with the grandfather were resolved too easily. Based on the setting, I would've also enjoyed something grittier and a bit more realistic. Other than a single
Intisar Khanani
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A well-written novel about a young girl who grew up in a Thai jail but must leave once her American mother dies. The story chronicles her journey to find her remaining family and make sense of the secrets her mother kept from her about who she is and what they had been running from. While I enjoyed the novel, I felt that the end was a overly simplistic, and hardly began to address the challenges Luchi would face (view spoiler) ...more
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
Nowhere Girl is a middle-grade story that treads its own path far from the Wimpy Kid and Potter trends. Heroine Luchi Ann has grown up in a Thai prison, comfortable with its walls and routines. When her American mother dies, she cannot stay. But where can she go? Helena Finn has kept her past a secret and her daughter in complete ignorance of who she is, how she became a prisoner, and why she stays.

Luchi's determination to find out her own and her mother's history propels her journey from the pr
Yvette (bookworlder)
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Luchi is a thirteen year old American girl, born and raised in an up-country Thai prison. When her mother dies, she begins to discover more about the secrets that were kept and about herself as she leaves the prison and truly experiences the outside world for the first time. As she goes on a journey to find family, she meets those who help her, and at least one who betrays her.

Told in three parts (Departure, Deliverance, Discovery), this is easily the most poetically written middle grade novel
Aug 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
First line:

"For the first time in days, I hear voices."

Luchi is born in a Thai prison to an American mother who is hiding from her past. Her mother dies and Luchi has to go into the world, by herself (that was disturbing to me. A little girl, alone in Thailand??). But the warden's son takes her to Bankock, where Luchi claims her family lives. There are obstacles along the way, which are sometimes conventiently taken care of.

People also showed up who helped and hindered Luchi. And sometimes that
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the rest of the description... 1 4 Nov 02, 2014 08:57PM  
Book Loving Kiwis: Nowhere Girl 17 19 Jul 06, 2012 01:03PM  

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A. J. PAQUETTE lives in Massachusetts with her family, where she is also a literary agent. Nowhere Girl is her first novel.
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