The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe – REVIEW

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.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Team Bkmrk / Pride Book Tours.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own

“Broken girls, both of us, growing up into women with cracks plastered rough over where smooth should be.”

Most of this book takes place over the span of a few hours during a bank robbery so there’s a palpable sense of tension constantly building. As a reader, this immediacy drew me further into the action, increasing my involvement. Threaded through the current timeline are flashbacks to the cons main character Nora was part of thanks to her con-artist mother.

“I was raised for a kind of slaughter. But I grew into a huntress instead.”

Nora is a cunning, intelligent, and capable bi seventeen-year-old with a mother in prison and a past she’s trying to escape. Trapped in the bank alongside her girlfriend Iris and ex-boyfriend/best friend Wes, Nora must use all her skills honed during her childhood to escape a deadly situation. The action scenes are well-paced and gripping but, most importantly, felt realistic.

“We’re both girls whose bones got forged from secrets instead of steel. No wonder we snapped together like magnets.”

There are some dark issues explored by the author such as coercive control, sexual abuse and domestic violence, but they are handled sensitively and create a more complex story. I always love the trope of found family and I appreciated the family unit Nora has found herself part of. Her big sister Lee was a fantastic character and so supportive of both Nora and Wes. 

“I am someone who survives. I am a liar and I’m a thief and I’m a con artist.”

The book has already been optioned for a Netflix film starring Millie Bobby Brown and I’m eager to see how they adapt the source material. It could be incredible if done right. The book emphasises that you should never underestimate a teenage girl and I hope the film gets this message across. If you’re looking for a thrilling action book with complex characters then definitely check this one out.

(Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon UK)

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