Title: The Girls I’ve Been
Author: Tess Sharpe
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: 4th February 2021
As an ex con artist, Nora has always got herself out of tricky situations. But the ultimate test lies in wait when she’s taken hostage in a bank heist. And this time, Nora doesn’t have an escape plan …
Meet Nora. Also known as Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley – the girls she’s been.
Nora didn’t choose a life of deception – she was born into it. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escape.
For five years Nora’s been playing at normal – but things are far from it when she finds herself held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes … awkward). Now it will take all of Nora’s con artistry skills to get them out alive.
Because the gunmen have no idea who she really is – that girl has been in hiding for far too long …
I was so intrigued by the premise of The Girls I’ve Been plus the upcoming Netflix adaption starring Millie Bobby Brown. It struck me as such an original story and I can confirm it is just as brilliant as it sounds. The plot follows 17 year old Nora, an ex con artist who is caught up in a hostage situation during a bank robbery. As the incident develops and Nora tries to find a way out for her and the people she loves we are taken back through Nora’s unique and harrowing childhood and meet the girls she’s been.
This was honestly such an exhilarating read which had me hooked from beginning to end. The bank robbery unfolds over a few hours and plays out in real time, interspersed with flashbacks explaining how Nora became the steely, smart and powerful young woman we meet at the start of the book. She is a fantastically layered character that I honestly challenge anyone not to root for one hundred percent. The supporting characters are just as memorable and distinctive as Nora. I have a particular soft spot for Iris, Nora’s girlfriend, with her fabulous love of vintage fashion and her razor sharp mind. I also really appreciated the fact that Iris suffers from the chronic illness endometriosis. I have a very similar condition called adenomyosis and it’s not something I’ve come across in fiction before so it was brilliant to see it getting some representation and being dealt with in such an authentic manner.
The Girl’s I’ve Been is full of action from the get go, part of the reason it will make a fantastic movie I’m sure. It grabs your attention and doesn’t let go and I felt so invested in Nora and her struggles with the trauma she has lived through. The relationships feel so genuine and are sensitively portrayed, I love the way the idea of family being what and who you choose is such a powerful theme throughout. This book is a fast and furious read with a real heart to it which I highly recommend.
I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.