Cover Image: The Girls I've Been

The Girls I've Been

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Member Reviews

Now this is the kind of YA read I've been looking for! Tell me a book is about a con artist and I'll immediately add it to my TBR. Add in a bank heist, I'm sold! 

This sapphic story centers around three characters just trying to get through their teenage life full of abuse and neglect. I truly loved Nora, Iris, and Wes and thought the author did an amazing job developing all their stories. The story flips between Nora's past life and the present bank heist. It is such a unique story and I'm really excited to hear it's being adapted for Netflix and starring Millie Bobby Brown!

This is definitely one to check out.
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I absolutely adored this super thrilling feminist story. Lots of fun and powerful. Can’t wait to see it adapted to TV
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I was planning to read this in e-arc format but ended up getting a physical copy of it. Although I think it's too long  for reluctant readers, I am really excited to read it in print and hopefully recommend it to a lot of teens.
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The bank heist should have been a fairly simple job, but these two robbers had no idea who was between the hostages. Nora’s entire life has been lies after lies living with her con artist of a mother, now she may have the most important con of her life; keeping her girlfriend and ex-boyfriend alive.

This was one of the best surprises I had this year, a book that I was hoping to enjoy, and went ahead and blew my mind. It was dark and intense and I was very horrified and thrilled. In a gripping dual timeline, Tess Sharpe takes us from Nora’s childhood to the bank robbery. Jumping between the two times, we slowly piece together what has lead Nora to this precise moment and what’s going to happen next. I was on the edge of my seat, listening to this audiobook nonstop. And I was not disappointed. The paid-off was so worthy, the turns and twists incredible.

Nora is one of these messy characters that I’m always talking about and I absolutely adored her. She’s a morally grey bisexual icon, honesty. And yes, maybe we all should be a little bit scared of her. She has gone through so much, my heart broke, but she’s resilient and she’s also full of love. One of my favorite things about this book was that even though it’s a dark story, so much of Nora’s core character trait comes from her relationship with her little-found family. And their love for her does never diminished the heavy topics, the love does not romanticize Nora’s trauma in any way.

To be honest, this book had so many elements that I would usually dislike. I tend to maintain as far away as I can from YA thrillers because they never hit the spot for me. They quickly become predictable and boring. It was not the case here. As I said, I was into this story from chapter one and I did not stop gasping and screaming until I got to the last sentence. The ending was perfect for this book; a little bit open, but still satisfying enough to feel very vindicate as Tess Sharpe always delivers.

I can’t sing praises enough for this book, it was so much more I was hoping for. A story about trauma and violence, with a thrilling bank heist gone wrong, yes. But also a story about found family and healing. Being the third book I read by the author, and once again, falling in love when I was not expecting it, I can see without a doubt Sharpe has become a new favorite author. I can’t wait to see what dark story comes next…
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Why is this book not all over the place?! I loved every minute of this dark YA novel.

Nora is the daughter of a con woman who has taught her very well. Nora has lived so many lives and had to keep so many secrets... All in the name of the grift. When her mom falls in love and marries one of her marks.. Nora calls her sister Lee (who got away from their mom years ago).

Fast forward 5 years.. Nora, her ex boyfriend/best friend Wes, and her girlfriend Iris are at a bank and get taken hostage. But Nora knows how to con and she can get them out. 

The robbery takes place in a day but we get to look into the many lives Nora has lived before. I felt so bad for her and the way she was brought up . The marks her mom had were always such scum. The ending was so crazy and it made me wonder if we could possibly get more story 🤞
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Thank you to the publisher and PenguinTeen for the free Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book just blew my mind. Like I literally imagined every scene in my head like a movie. Nora is a daughter of a con artist. Her mother thought her everything she knows and uses it when she, her girlfriend and ex boyfriend are caught in the middle of a bank heist. Action packed, sass, heart break, amazing character development and parts that just make you want to scream. I mean this book is wonderfully written. One of my favorite reads this year. I'm not writing more because if you haven't read this book yet, you need to.
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I really enjoyed this book! I like that we were shown the complexity of being in a bisexual relationship. I find that not of lot of books show bisexuality as much so it was very refreshing as I can relate directly to it being bisexual myself.

The intensity of this book was top-notch. You are constantly in this very serious situation while it keeps giving you little flashbacks for backstory and I was here for every second of it. I think that Nora was a fantastic protagonist and she really had me rooting for her.

I have heard that this is being turned into a movie and I will 100% be watching it. The book kept me hooked from start to finish so I can imagine the movie will be just as good. I want to read more by Tess Sharpe after this. Her writing style was a lot of fun and I am excited what other books she has to offer.
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Honestly, I wasn’t sure how much I would like this book after the first 50 pages, but then it picked up! I was really blown away. Is that because I lost hope early? I’ll never know. But what I do know is this book was great.
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This was one heck of a YA. Part psychological thriller, part coming of age story, this was one I recommend for a variety of readers. I never quite knew where this was going but I loved it!
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book. 

 Wow, this book was wild! I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but I definitely got more than I thought I would from this book. Nora grew up with her con artist mother, and has been forced to live a life of cons since she was 6. When she and her best friend and girlfriend end up at the bank while it's being robbed, it gets wild. Just from the day, you get to delve into her last and the identities she's had over the years and the events that led her to be here and where she goes from there. I can't say too much without giving things away, but I loved this book.
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Ya, thriller, mystery, and romance to name a few things, oh you must get this genre bender in your hands asap because its the cream of the crop of books!! This books, the plot, and the characters gets all the flowers!!
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I cannot express how deeply obsessed I was with this book. Read it in two sittings without trying. It was truly spectacular. Riveting. The writing was accessible and didn’t make the reader feel stupid for not catching something. Also not in my general wheelhouse, but have heavily recommended this book since receiving the arc. Have not heard back from one person saying they didn’t also love it. An absolute hit. Would make an amazing miniseries.
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Wow this was a crazy ride and just found out this will be adapted by Netflix with Millie Bobby Brown. Nora (and her many identities) has lived a hard life because her mother raised her like be a con artist. This is a very fast read because you are dying to know what will happen. On top of being a great story there’s great representation in the book: bisexual main character and endometriosis.
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I was firstly intrigued by the premise and the short dialogues made it an easy and fast-paced read, however the execution didn't work for me. I found the narrative quite disjointed and got lost along the way. 

This is a unique novel that many readers will enjoy and even though it wasn't for me, I am still very excited to watch the TV adaptation. In addition, I appreciate the bisexual rep.
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So yeah I know, I am totally late to this party. May I introduce you Nora, or is her name Ashley or Haley. Like the mother so the daughter – Nora's Mum is a con artist. She trained her all her tricks. She wants to leave her past behind. With her ex-boyfriend and her love Iris she got into a bank robbery. But are the robbers clever enough to beat Nora. Of course not. Nora knows a lot from her mother, so she knows how to play with the gangster. This is a deep story, and you immediately feel connected to Nora. The story is also like a rush, you know that feeling, when you start a book and it's so good that you can’t do something else till the last page. There was a lot of pain in these pages. So many characters has to deal with their trauma. They have to deal with love. I love the writing style of Tess Sharpe. Her characters aren’t weak. Sounds weird, but this book felt so real. Its like you are in the middle of the action. You are in the story. You are next to our characters. I can’t wait to see this in a film adaption with Millie Bobby Brown. So and now can we please talk about this representation. Menstruation was here a topic. Iris has endometriosis, we have a bisexual main character who is also an abuse survivor. This story has everything we need in books. Suspense, Deep relationships, a good pacing, strong characters. Damn please more of books like this.
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I just found out this is going to be a Netflix adaption! 😱 This should be good! ⁣
Wow this book was crazy such a whirlwind!!⁣
I can’t even imagine the life Nora has led. No girl should have to suffer what she went through. But what I love about Nora is she’s a fighter she doesn’t give up even through all the crap dumped on her.  ⁣
Nora (a girl with many different names) has grown up being a con-girl. Through no fault of her own, her mom brought her up that way. But because of this I wouldn’t want to mess with Nora either. I also felt this deep sympathy for what she had went through. She’s a very complex character.⁣
Nora, Wes (Nora’s Ex Boyfriend) and Iris (Nora’s current Girlfriend) (all friends) get caught up in the middle of a bank heist.⁣
Things are not exactly going the way the bank robbers want and they have nothing to lose, so that makes them dangerous. So Nora being Nora starts to use her unique skills to think of ways to get them all out and alive. ⁣
You’ll have to read it yourself to see who or if any of them actually make it!⁣
I loved Nora, Wes and Iris. Each of them had their own stories and unique characteristics, they each brought a lot to the story. Of course you can’t help but be fascinated by Nora the MC and also very saddened by some of the things she’s had to survive. ⁣
I especially loved Nora’s much older sister, Lee a side character that was brave and devoted to Nora and also a bit scary in her own right. ⁣
Nora and Lee’s Mom..I can’t even go there. Let’s just say she is a piece of shit. A waste of space. ⁣
The plot was interesting. You got to learn bits and pieces of Nora’s past “lives” and all the different girls she was intertwined with the current story of the bank robbery and her current life. ⁣
I liked how at the beginning of each chapter,  starting with chapter 8, there is a list of what Nora is working with to try and finagle her way out of their mess. Ex. 1 lighter, no plan..later on 1 lighter, 3 bottles of vodka, 1 pair of scissors, no plan. ⁣
You get the idea.⁣
The story was fast paced. The dialogue between the characters is quick witted and done well.⁣
I like how Tess wove dark aspects with humor to find a perfect balance. And how Nora’s therapy and Iris having endometriosis is brought up. Certain conditions are not always mentioned so outright in YA. Kudos Tess for calling attention to some serious matters. ⁣
The reason that I deducted a star is because of how the story ended. It was kind of abrupt. This girl needs more info! But otherwise this was a really interesting story with lots of different components, one of them being about a kick ass girl who claws her way to survival. ⁣
Tess Sharpe is now on my radar as an author to read so I recommend you all give her a try! ⁣
𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐏𝐞𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐢𝐧 𝐓𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐀𝐑𝐂 𝐢𝐧 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this! The pacing was beautiful, the way that Tess Sharpe slowly gives us bits and pieces of both past and present. Amazing. It reminds me a lot of This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, a favorite novel of mine.

This book is dark, and i wonder if it would do better on adult shelves than YA, BUT WOW. I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT,
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Tess Sharpe did has done a wonderful job writing a thrilling and exciting tale with "The Girls I've Been". The plot has you hooked from just the description, and her writing style is engaging and easy to follow without being boring or basic. I also loved the unforced and well-written bisexual representation, and also how it didn't take away from the plot of the book!

Overall: 4/5 stars
I would recommend this for anyone looking to get into reading, specifically the thriller/action genre
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The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe is an excruciatingly good thriller that examines the destructive relationships between child and parent. Part White Oleander, part hostage situation, and part teen drama, TGIB is a dark and gritty story that leaves readers on the edge of their seats. Sharpe excels in building realistic characters and situations without bogging the reader down in clunky development. While this book was much darker than I anticipated, I was hooked from the start and couldn't put the novel down. I would highly recommend trigger warnings to be better shared with readers before the story begins, but I will definitely recommend this book to others.
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In lesser hands, The Girls I’ve Been could’ve been a thriller that drew most of its tension from the dynamic between Nora, her girlfriend, and ex-boyfriend trapped in a life-threatening situation together.

Tess Sharpe, however, deftly both subverts and sidesteps this trope, instead focusing on the protagonist’s internal conflict and the concept of identity.


TGIB sets up as a normal day gone wrong. Protagonist Nora visits the bank with her girlfriend Iris and ex-boyfriend Wes. Their simple trip turns into a nightmare when the bank is robbed and their lives are in danger. Trapped and desperate to find a way to escape, Nora is forced to confront her past and the secrets she’s kept buried.


The various facets of love are on display in the relationships Nora shares with the people in her life. Both healthy and otherwise.

The dynamic between Nora, Iris, and Wes is particularly refreshing. Built on love, rather than jealousy, the author crafts believable, relatable characters. 


TGIB is not a heist novel. It’s a harrowing exploration of predators, trauma, and the dark, twisted horrors of humanity.

Trigger warnings abound as Sharpe tackles how trauma affects survivors, and the delicate relationship between parent and child.

With each chapter, we follow Nora as she recalls her past identities with increasingly ominous glimpses into the toxic relationships she shared with parental figures.


TGIB is not for the faint of heart. If you do enjoy a gripping tale of trauma and love, however, pick it up immediately. The pacing is exquisite, and the characters are beautifully believable.
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