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

First Published in Great Britain in 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton.

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Genre: Young Adult Thriller, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, Suspense.

Page Count: 356

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sypnosis from Goodreads:

A slick, twisty YA page-turner about the daughter of a con artist who is taken hostage in a bank heist.

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

For five years Nora’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’re all friends, Wes didn’t know about her and Iris.

#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It’s a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:

#3: Right after they enter bank, two guys start robbing it.

The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora’s something else entirely. They have no idea who they’re really holding hostage…

My Review:

“It was supposed to be twenty minutes.”

I think I might just have a new favourite opening line! It was as soon as I picked up The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe that I felt like I’d stumbled across a gem! Now, this book had been on my radar since I’d seen it float around on bookstagram, so it was one I was quite excited to pick up!

It all begins with an absolutely delightfully wicked MC whos name may or may not be Nora, who’s gone into a bank alongside her girlfriend, Iris – and her ex boyfriend, Wes (talk about awkward?!), her first thought is of course to protect her best friends, but what is awesome is that the crooks robbing the bank don’t know is that Nora’s all to familiar with the life of deception, being raised to be the perfect accessory in her Mother’s Con Woman life!

‘I learn it’s my life. Rebecca. Samantha. Haley. Katie. Ashley. The girls I’ve been.’

Oh. My. God. This book though! Even when I got a couple chapters in, I instantly started chattering away about it to my workmates, pretty much anyone who’d listen! I was so excited to read about Nora/not Nora absolutely OWN these crooks, because they had no idea what a literal firecracker she is! So fierce, I actually felt quite bad for telling people how much I enjoyed reading about the scenes in the present, because it was absolutely horrible what Nora, Iris, Wes and everyone were going through! I just had an inkling though, that Nora would hopefully find a way to save her friends, her Franken-Family, Wes and Iris. Now, with the natural awkwardness that would come from seeing your ex girlfriend and your best friend being a couple, you’d think that potentially there’d be some uncomfortable moments. Yet, what completely shone through was the utter adoration and love between the three of them, getting to read about Wes’s friendship with Iris, but also his early friendship with Nora but then how that blossomed into something more, but then also how it opened up pain for Nora, not knowing if she could trust Wes, after everything she’d gone through in the past, get equally wanting to trust him because she does love him, just, ahhh!

“We’re more alike than you know”, she’d told me. I don’t think I heard. But I know now. We’re both girls whose bones got forged from secrets instead of steel. No wonder we snapped together like magnets. We’re made of the same stuff, somehow.’ Oh, Iris. Iris. Iris. Now, her scenes with Nora, her friendship with Wes, my heart! I absolutely adore Iris’s character throughout! I loved her intimate moments with Nora, when things weren’t safe and not at all certain, Nora being uncertain as to being able to open up to Iris about her dark secrets, Wes being in between, almost a voice of reason, advocating that Nora tell Iris her history! But oh, I just love how Iris was full of surprises throughout and oh, I just loved how much she absolutely loves Nora and how they just got to confide in one another and share poignant truths!

It was the flashback scenes though, Nora recalling how her Mum shaped her into each of these girls, all of whom had an equally poignant part in shaping Nora into who she is now, even if she still might be trying to figure it out! But oh, those flashbacks where we learnt about Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley were absolutely effing AMAZING! All ‘Nora’ ever wanted was adoration and love from her Mum, to make her happy, it was always just the two of them, with Nora’s Mum training her into becoming her viper. Her Mother would always shape her into becoming her perfect accessory, but this shift changes slightly when a man named Raymond comes into the picture….

Ugh, Raymond. He’s the epitome of an absolutely feral, rich, disgusting, entitled man who thinks women should be covered at the beach, when be gets annoyed and lashes out at our main character for being cat-called at the beach, who then insists they won’t go out anymore, that he’ll keep our MC essentially confined to their property! And then to read what happens with Nora’s Mum! This absolutely outrageous woman, who’d never bow down to any guy and would only ever use them and take from them, I was just so shocked to read about what ended up happening! But more so, I was just devastated for Nora, who deserved so much better!

Yet, everything she went through, as Rebecca, as Samantha, as Haley, as Katie and Ashley, each personality, or aspects of them at least, sticking with her! But oh, what started as an initial twenty minutes, was the start of something completely memorable, poignant, action packed and fierce to the core! I hear this is in development as a movie, which is equally exciting, especially reading how character focused this brilliant book is! Though it’s absolutely action packed too, a definite must read for any Thriller fans, of any ages!

I’ll leave it there, but oh, I absolutely recommend this book, so, so much!

Happy Reading,



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