Catherine Dang | Nice Girls

nice girls catherine dang

The Audiobook: 

Nice Girls by Catherine Dang
Published September 14, 2021 by William Morrow
Date read: September 25, 2021

The Characters: 


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Growing up in Liberty Lake, Minnesota, Mary was chubby, awkward, and smart. Earning a scholarship to an Ivy League school was her ticket out; she was going to do great things and never look back. Three years later, “Ivy League Mary” is back—a thinner, cynical, and restless failure. Kicked out of Cornell at the beginning of senior year, she won’t tell anyone why. Working at the local grocery store, she sees familiar faces from high school and tries to make sense of the past and her life.

When beautiful, magnetic Olivia Willand, a rising social media star, goes missing, Mary—like the rest of Liberty Lake—becomes obsessed. Best friends in childhood, Mary and Olivia haven’t spoken in years. Everyone admired Olivia, but Mary knows better than anyone that behind the Instagram persona hid a willful, manipulative girl with sharp edges. As the world worries for perfect, lovely Olivia, Mary can’t help but hate her. She also believes that her disappearance is tied to another missing person—a nineteen-year-old girl named DeMaria Jackson whose disappearance has gone under the radar.  

Who was the true Olivia Willand, and where did she go? What happened to DeMaria? As Mary delves deeper into the lives of the two missing girls, old wounds bleed fresh and painful secrets threaten to destroy everything.

Maybe no one is really a nice girl, after all.

Click here for book spoilers for Nice Girls
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Nice Girls, I suggest you turn back now.

I waited too long to write this review and don’t remember everything that happened, so definitely let me know if I have something wrong. Please excuse any name misspellings as I listened to the audiobook!

The Twist:

Dwayne was the father of DeMaria’s child. He had been suspiciously absent from work during a number of critical periods in the investigation. Mary anonymously told Kevin (a cop she had gone to high school with) to look into Dwayne, and he was arrested for the murders. However, Mary soon realizes that the killer is still out there when she receives another blackmail phone call.

The Ending:

John Stack, a friend of Mary’s dad and the Willands, had kidnapped and murdered both girls. Mary figured it out based on something Mrs. Willand said about Olivia working for Doberman, which turned out to be an underground porn ring. John Stack was the local rep for Doberman, and would kidnap girls who came to him to sell videos.

Mary traced his involvement from the land records and came across his cabin in the woods. John Stack found her and locked her up, but she escaped, killed him, and made it home. Her father helped cover up her involvement and the police eventually found the bodies in the chest freezer in John Stack’s cabin.

The Review: 

Thank you to Harper Audio for a complimentary copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the premise of Nice Girls, as it’s one we see often in the news. When a Black girl from the wrong side of town goes missing no one seems to care, but when a popular, Instagram-famous white girl goes missing, the town is turned upside down to find her. The police kept trying to convince DeMaria’s family that she had just run away, and only seem to care about her disappearance once they realized it may have been connected to Olivia’s. There was so much potential here for the author to explore racism and classism. She touched on it briefly, but I think I was hoping for a deeper dive than we ended up getting.

I enjoyed the pacing of this book and the way the story unfolded. As a reader I really felt like I was uncovering clues along with Mary. I liked the author’s method of presenting the clues without stating them outright.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really connect with Mary as a main character. I didn’t understand her obsession with Olivia, although I know they used to be frenemies. She seemed unnecessarily jaded and hateful towards everyone in her town, and even alienated her one best friend. I think she just read kind of young to me, very hung up on her childhood, and wasn’t easy to empathize with. It was easy to overlook her character for the plot, though.

I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for more books by this debut author in the future.

Follow me on Bloglovin’!

nice girls catherine dang
nice girls catherine dang

We're trying to grow our mailing list. If you join us and stick around, you will automatically be entered into two giveaways as a token of our thanks. And that's just the start!


  1. I am SO happy to meet someone else who loves spoilers!
    I agree about this book. I liked the premise. I didn’t actually mind Mary. I didn’t love the ending (which I know you asked about on my blog. I have a harder time remembering plot points when I listen versus read. Plus it’s hard to look things up lol).
    From what I remember, Mary gets Dwayne out of prison (thankfully, geez.) She kills John Stack during a struggle and her father helps her cover it up. Then the police find evidence that John killed DeMaria and Olivia. That’s kind of it. For me the ending was kind of anticlimactic.

    1. Hey Jen! I actually found your blog trying to Google the ending to this book, I needed a memory jogger to write this post! It’s definitely harder when I can’t flip back and read the last couple chapters, I did this one on audio too. But yeah, that was about as far as I remember 😂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *