The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

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The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (9780593353806)

Nora grew up with a con artist for a mother and quickly became an integral part of the cons she would pull, cheating wealthy men of their ill-gotten wealth. Nora became multiple girls to do this, one after another as each con ended, she would reinvent herself. She is now Nora, a girl who escaped her mother but not without having to make some terrible decisions along the way. Rescued by her older sister, she is trying to live a new life. Then she finds herself caught up in a bank robbery where the skills she built in her childhood may be the only thing that will save her. She knows how to read desperate people, how to get them what they want, and how to manipulate them. It might just be enough to keep the two people she loves alive too: her ex-boyfriend and her new girlfriend, who he just found out about.

Sharpe has created a feminist thriller that is a dynamite mix of survival, intelligence, bravery and pure nerve. She sets the thriller in a taut situation of its own, a bank robbery gone very wrong. Add in the character of Nora, already a survivor and not willing to ever be abused again, and you have a dangerous and explosive book that you won’t be able to put down. Nora is a unique protagonist, fascinating with her brilliant mind, unique approach to others, and what she learned in a lifetime of cons. Readers will love her throughout the book as she is alight with her newfound freedom and not ever going to lose.

Sharpe’s writing is stellar. She uses fabulous metaphors throughout, using fire, weaponry and explosions to express emotions, creating a ticking timebomb of a novel. She also writes real sparks between Nora and Iris while also demonstrating the deep feelings that Nora has for Wes. This is a book where readers can see Nora’s mind work, feel the evolving situation, but also laugh out loud with pure feminist joy at times.

A gripping, stunning thriller for teens, this one a sharp knife of a novel. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from copy provided by G. P. Putnam’s Sons.