Popsugar Reading Challenge 2021 – Book 10

Prompt: A free book from your TBR (gifted, borrowed, library)

I had plenty to choose from for this prompt as I’ve been lucky enough to have some fab proofs and some lockdown RAOKs stacked up in my TBR caddy. I went for The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe. I was sent a proof from the lovely folks at Team BKMRK at Hachette Books.

What it’s about?

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…

What I think:

This is a fantastic YA thriller.

Nora, her ex-boyfriend/best friend Wes and her girlfriend Iris, go to the bank to pay in the proceeds from an animal charity fundraiser and find themselves in the middle of a bank heist that is rapidly going wrong.

The narrative is divided between the unfolding bank heist, where Nora is desperately trying to buy some time and get her friends safely out of the bank, and flashbacks to Nora’s extraordinary past.

Nora has secrets. And they are dark and dangerous.

Over the years, Nora has been a series of other girls. Her mother, a con artist, used Nora to support her scams. Each scam saw her become a new girl with a new name and a new personality.

This book is intense. The heist escalates quickly as Nora tries to outsmart the bank robbers. The scenes with her mother and the various cons are often traumatic. Nora’s relationship with her mother is toxic and abusive as she is groomed to become her accomplice.

I loved the relationships between Nora and her friends. All three of them have experienced abusive relationships and have developed their own support systems. Nora’s developing relationship with Iris is really lovely.

I love that this book talks about so many topics openly – periods, endometriosis, unwanted pregnancy, therapy, emotional and physical abuse, and consent within relationships. There’s an array of trigger warnings but everything is dealt with in a sensitive way and nothing feels gratuitous.

This is a twisty and dark crime thriller with complex and compelling characters. I’m looking forward to seeing the Netflix film when it is released later this Spring.

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