Too Nice

Too Nice

By Author / Illustrator

Sally Nicholls, Amy Blackwell


Family & Home

Age range(s)



Barrington Stoke




Paperback / softback




Abby struggles with feelings of anxiety about school during a period of family upheaval in this sensitive and touching story from Sally Nicholls.

Abby is used to it being just her and her dad at home, but now her dad's new girlfriend Jen is moving in and everything is changing. It's not like Jen is an evil stepmother, though. Instead, Abby's problem is that Jen is just too nice! She constantly compliments Abby on everything from her appearance to her schoolwork, and Abby finds it fake and claustrophobic. But how can she explain to her dad how she feels when Jen hasn't really done anything wrong?



For a slim book, Too Nice packs a big emotional punch as the main character, Abby, negotiates the changes her Dad's relationship with serious girlfriend, Jen, bring. Sally Nicholls engages the reader from the beginning, as Abby struggles with her feelings after Jen moves in to their house. Abby especially hates that Jen is so nice to her (hence the title) as she feels both patronised and that this doesn't fit into the traditional 'evil stepmother' trope. Nevertheless, page 21 profoundly sums it up for Abby - 'It felt like Jen was redrawing the map of her family'.

The book has a satisfying start, middle and end and although (spoiler alert) things improve following some necessary honest conversations between the characters, the beginning offers the reader a really authentic POV from the daughter as she struggles to accept that her relationship with her Dad is changing and to cope with the guilt of being less than welcoming to his partner.

Too Nice considers the emotions of the characters in a gentle way which promotes assertiveness, enabling positive change and the growth of emotional intelligence in relationships as a kinder and ultimately more effective way than using negative, argumentative approaches.

This Barrington Stoke publication offers young people who have experienced the challenges of growing up in blended families an extremely relatable story. Indeed, it is a great story for any teen to read and in addition, it is in the usual highly accessible Barringtn Stoke dyslexia friendly format for struggling readers to access. Finally, I should admit my vested interest in a happy ending as I too am a school librarian like Jen! Highly recommend.

80 pages / Reviewed by Ruth Cornish, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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