Book Review | The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

Author : Tess Sharpe
Published on : January 26, 2021
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre : Fiction, YA Contemporary, LGBTQIA+

*Huge thanks to PRH International and NetGalley for my free e-arc.
This did not affect my overall opinion of the book.

Nora O’Malley is a lot of things. A sister. An ex. A secret girlfriend. Kind of crooked, but reformed… somewhat.

Nora O’Malley’s been a lot of girls. As the daughter of a con-artist who targets criminal men, she grew up her mother’s protege. But when mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.

For five years she’s been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:

#1: her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they’ve all been inseparable for months, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.

#2: The morning after, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised together. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly.

Because #3: right after they get in the bank, two guys start robbing it.

But they have no idea who they’re really holding hostage.

The robbers are trouble. Nora’s something else entirely.

trigger warning: assault, child abuse, sexual abuse, click here for the author’s list of TW

Nora, a daughter of a con-artist, is caught in the middle of a bank robbery with her girlfriend and her ex-boyfriend. For five years she’s been living a normal life with her older sister away from their mother and her cons. But right now, being one of the hostages, she knows that the only way to escape is to con the robbers.

I was grateful that this book turned out to be different from what I was expecting. I easily fell in love with Nora’s character. She’s brave, smart, and definitely a badass. Lee, her older sister, is remarkable too. She’s a little scary but I definitely would love to have her as my sister. Iris (Nora’s girlfriend) and Wes (Nora’s bestfriend and ex-boyfriend) are both amazing characters too. I liked that we get to know each of them, the struggles and pain they’ve been through, how they survived and continue living their lives.

I thought the format of the book was clever and enjoyable to read. The author did a great job unfolding the story using both of the timelines. The past tells us about Nora’s role in her mother’s cons and the present shows us the events happening inside the bank as well as the escape plan. I thought the story was unique especially for a young adult novel.

I was really thankful that there’s no love triangle and that the author didn’t make the sexuality of Nora and Iris a big deal. Aside from the sapphic romance which was really adorable and sweet, I appreciated the mention of menstruation, endometriosis, and abortion.

This book is dark and humorous, heart-breaking and hopeful. It’s definitely an entertaining and a page-turner read. A story of survival and healing, The Girls I’ve Been is definitely one of my favorite reads this year. Also, can we get a sequel? I really want to read more about these characters.

*There will be a Netflix adaptation of this book starring Millie Bobby Brown which is exciting because I can see her as Nora.

“What didn’t kill me didn’t make me stronger; what didn’t kill me made me a victim. But I made me stronger. I made me a survivor.”

My Rating : ★★★★☆
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