Amy’s Thoughts On…The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

Published By: Hodder Children’s Books

Released: 4th February 2021

CAWPILE Rating: 7.4 / 4 ★

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


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

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.

Amy’s Thoughts

Trigger Warnings: Hostage situation, robbery, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, arson, shooting, explosion, violence, blood, murder.

I am really into my YA thrillers at the moment, so when I heard about The Girls I’ve Been I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. The concept behind the book sounded incredibly fascinating, and from the get-go, I had a feeling it would be unlike any YA thriller I have read previously and let me tell you this…I was right.

Nora is the daughter of a notorious con-woman and has had to take on different identities. For five years, however, under the care of her sister, she’s been trying to fit into normal life. This doesn’t particularly go to plan though, as her ex catches her with her new girlfriend, the morning after they head to the bank to deposit money they have all raised for an animal shelter and as soon as they get into the bank they are held hostage by two guys wanting to rob the place. Nora is determined to survive and make the robbers know who they are dealing with.

First of all, this was such an intense read that will have you compelled to keep on reading. I found myself totally caught up in all the mystery and action surrounding it, and if I’m being honest I was utterly hooked on it. It was so compelling and addictive that you did just want to finish it in one sitting. Throughout the story, you are waiting on tenterhooks, and are left wondering what will happen next at several places, and I did find my heart pounding through most of my time reading.

he thrilling, intense plot is what kept me engrossed in the book, and not wanting to put it down. What I found most interesting about it was the mix of timelines; you get a mix of the current day, where the bank robbery is taking place, and Nora’s past, where she is essentially being forced to take part in her mother’s cons. Through this we got the sense of Nora as a character, and how she is just trying to escape her past and try to start her life anew, albeit it not going particularly to plan. Nora is damaged and is flawed by her past and we discover more as the story progresses. The way that she brings some of the skills she’s learnt through her upbringing to help manipulate the situation she is in and escape it ultimately saves not only her but the others around her. Come to the end, Nora accepts her past, and knows that she will have to face up to it at some point.

The topic of found family is prominent within the book, especially in regards to Nora and Wes. You could see how much they both cared for one another and wanted to keep each other safe, despite going from a couple to exes, to somewhat friends. The way they stayed strong for one another proves that if you do want to protect someone, you will, no matter what they are to you. Wes’s upbringing, despite being somewhat different to Nora’s, is slightly similar and I think this could be one of the reasons why they ended up so close and forming this little family between them. The relationship between Nora and Iris’s relationship was also intriguing. We see Iris want to have this future with Nora, but with Nora hiding her past, it does put a strain on them at times. However, we do see how much they do tend to each other and have this close-knit bond, through the events that take place throughout the book.

The Girls I’ve Been was an electrifying, heart-stopping, thrilling read that left me breathless the moment I finished the final page. It’s unlike any YA thriller I have read before and I am rather excited for the Netflix adaptation.

5 thoughts on “Amy’s Thoughts On…The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

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