Book Review | The Girls I’ve Been

A fabulous book to round off my week.

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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Hive

The Girls I’ve Been will be published on 4th February 2021

Wow…just wow. This review will definitely not do this book justice. The Girls I’ve Been is an amazing and gripping roller coaster of a book that I honestly did not want to put down, everything about it drew me in and I was transfixed until the end.

I love the structure of this book, it is all told from Nora’s perspective and it pretty much starts right in the thick of it as they walk into the bank that is about to be robbed, it then goes back and forth between the robbery, how her relationships with Wes, Iris and Lee have formed, the different girls that Nora has been and why she had to be them. The short chapters, interspersed with transcripts and snippets of Nora’s past made for a snappy pace and of course added a lot of mystery and suspense to an already quite thrilling story.

The characters are also magnificent, Nora is a morally grey chameleon who is trying to figure out who she is at the same time as trying to keep her friend Wes and her girlfriend Iris safe, she has essentially been trained to be a con artist by her mother so she knows how to manipulate situations and has great instincts. I couldn’t help but love her and even when things looked pretty dicey I was rooting for her to make it through. Wes was a character that I thought I had kind of pegged from the start but in fact he was so much more than my initial impression and I loved that about him and that he and Nora stuck together even when they could have let their differences come between them.

I have to say though I have a total soft spot for Iris, I was constantly surprised by her, at first I felt like she was the most vulnerable because Nora and Wes are protective of her but actually she is resourceful and strong-minded and has style that leaps off the page. I love the relationship between Iris and Nora, they work so well together and I love how they both try to protect each other and that Iris is so accepting of the family that Nora has built with her sister Lee, who was also such a badass character, and Wes.

The story was so clever and exciting and whilst there are some thrilling elements, it is also an exploration of how Nora forms relationships and deals with the aftermath of the life with her mother. This is a story I will definitely be re-reading in the future and will most likely be one of my top ten for this year too, yip it’s that good.

Reviews of other books by Tess Sharpe
6 Times We Almost Kissed (And One Time We Did)

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