Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tough Girl” as Want to Read:
Tough Girl
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt

Tough Girl

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  66 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Danger lurks everywhere in eleven year old Reggie's world—from the bully next door to the unwanted attentions of a creep at school. Raised by her mentally ill mother, Reggie is left to fend for herself. She escapes in daydreams, battling aliens with her alter ego, Tough Girl.

When Reggie's mother disappears, her fantasy life spirals out of control and starts to invade reali
Paperback, 250 pages
Published January 14th 2013 by Smashwords Edition (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tough Girl, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tough Girl

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Rebecca Gransden
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tough Girl tells the tale of Reggie. Reggie is a young girl facing a bleak existence. In a state of neglect caused by her mother’s fragile mental state she faces a harsh world. She is left to fend for herself and as a desperate attempt to cope her own fantasy life intrudes ever more strongly as she struggles to make her way through unforgiving days. With school a source of further persecution she exists in a narrow world without the skills necessary to find her way out. This is compounded by a s ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of dark, melancholic and disturbing stories.
Recommended to Cory by: Libby Heily
“Tough Girl. It’s not a name, it’s a warning.”

I devoured Tough Girl within one day. It was the perfect read for a snowy, grey Sunday.
Rarely I get caught up in a book that much, but in this case I just couldn't stop reading.

Reggie, the main character, leads a sad life. Her mother Mona suffers from severe mental illness. Mostly she is sitting in her chair all day, mentally passed out and does nothing but stare at the radio. Reggie, the 11-year-old girl that she is, has to take care of herself beca
Lisa Regan
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With Tough Girl, Libby Heily has done something really amazing. This book will blow your mind. It is a book about a girl against the world—a callous, indifferent, violent world that doesn’t notice or care about her. Eleven year old Reggie’s life in the ghetto is a cat and mouse game with danger itself. Her mother is absent even when she is physically there. Reggie has to regularly face down bullies and other creepy characters. Each day is an epic struggle just to find enough food to keep her goi ...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

All admissions forward: I was sent this book by the author, whom I consider a friend. This did not and does not affect my review.

It's been a real pleasure to watch Libby's growth as an author over the last two years. Having read and greatly enjoyed her short story collection back in 2011, I was anxious to see what she would come up with for her first her full-length novel. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed with the end result; Tough Gir
Free copy supplied by the author Libby Heily in exchange for an honest review.

I've been avoiding writing this review for weeks, because I knew it was going to be hard to write. But I HAD TO GET IT OFF MY SHOULDERS eventually you need to get over it.

TOUGH GIRL was kind of a surreal book. It was... strange. Not bad, but definitely different.

It's about a young girl named Reggie, a troubled and misunderstood eleven-year old and her alter ego, Tough Girl. Reggie's unstable mother disappears and duri
Daniel Clausen
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I guess a few disclosures are in order. First, I know Libby Heily. We’ve been goodreads friends for a while now, so I've been rooting for her. Second, I don't read a lot of Young Adult books. Not that that matters too much because this book is just a good book and works on a lot of levels.

I think the thing that makes this book great is the main character, Reggie. Writing about poverty has always been difficult. The main reason writing about poverty is difficult is because poverty is often dehum
Susan Swiderski
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Be careful. This book fights dirty. When you least expect it, it's liable to break your heart.

Eleven-year-old Reggie's life is beyond tough; that's why she counts on her imaginary alter-ego Tough Girl to help her survive. The brutal bullying she endures at school pales in comparison to the harsh reality of her home life, where she shares a filthy, sparsely-furnished apartment with her mentally ill mother. Then Mom disappears, and Reggie's struggle to survive gets even harder. And much much scari
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone to whom it appeals
Recommended to Katy by: Libby
Shelves: ebook
Book Info: Genre: Fiction
Reading Level: While the character is MG, the author has warned “This book contains adult themes and adult language.” This is a book for adults, or for people with the inner strength and maturity to handle the storyline.
Recommended for: anyone to whom it appeals
Trigger Warnings: (implied) rape, violence, domestic violence, bullying, (implied) child molester
Animal abuse: Cats left to their own devices outside in a city.

Please note: Libby Heily was a guest on my blog Janua
This is an interesting story, although I had mixed reactions to it. The author does a wonderful job of portraying Reggie and her world (which is somewhat heartbreaking). However, as depressing as her surroundings might be, Reggie is pretty resilient. She has an alter-ego, Tough Girl, and she spends time dreaming up elaborate plots for her. The author gives us Tough Girl's voice, in conversations with Reggie, and in situations that are all her own (like in Chapter 4), and even as as know that Tou ...more
Tara Lee
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Tough Girl by Libby Heily was definitely not the book I was expecting. When I'd read the description I'd gathered it wouldn't necessarily be all rainbows and flowers, but the depths of this book went far beyond even what I'd imagined they would.

Reggie's basically taking care of herself, by herself. To say she's being raised by her mentally ill mother is quite a bit of an overstatement, as her mother mostly sits on the couch listening to static on the radio. Poor Reggie spends most of her time a
Linda Harley
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
What I loved most about this book was its originality. Reggie at first appearance seems like your typical 11 year old girl having to survive school and home. But just beneath the surface there is a lot of tragedy that she must face, including a mentally ill mother, starvation, and learning who to trust and who to run away from. She often retreats into her own fantasy world to escape from it all, but the fantasy world bleeds into her real life, and in the end the reader is left not knowing what w ...more
Melysah Bunting
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tough Girl by Libby Heily is a story about a young girl who lives in the ghetto. Reggie's mother is mentally ill and disappears one day leaving Reggie to fend for herself. Luckily, Reggie has Tough Girl as her sidekick.

It is a delicate tale. It isn't easy reading about a child with no food and no parents. A young girl who dreams of joining the Army. But Reggie is a tough girl. It's not a name, it's a warning.

Tough Girl by Libby Heily is an imaginative tear-jerking tale. Where a little girl walk
E.J. Wesley
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fearless author needs fearless readers...

Tough Girl is harsh ... and sweet ... and gritty ... and endearing. It truly is all of those things, which is no small thing for a single book to accomplish. The story of a young girl (Reggie) and her imaginary guardian, Tough Girl, is a--at times--brutal examination of the isolation and hopelessness brought about by mental illness, bullying, and poverty. The author does a wonderful job of making the reader both admire and pity Reggie by fearlessly exam
Danielle Villano
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
(Originally posted on my blog, The Reader's Commute)

Originally I was hesitant about agreeing to read Tough Girl. Seeing "SciFi" in the genre category had me hesitant, because I've never really felt like I truly understood science fiction / would not be able to discuss it in an eloquent way. However, my love for young protagonists and interesting storylines won out, and I knew that I had to read this book.

It should be noted: Although Reggie, the main character, is eleven years old, this is not j
Mary Fan
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
(Originally posted on my blog, Zigzag Timeline)

11-year-old Reggie lives a dangerous life in an ordinary world. A resident of the impoverished Apartments and cared for only by a mentally ill mother, she faces constant bullying at school as well as the real-world dangers presented by poverty. She escapes this harsh reality via her imaginary alter ego, Tough Girl, who battles aliens in a faraway fanciful land.

Tough Girl is told from Reggie’s point of view and follows her as she goes about her life
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Tough Girl is a an endearing book about a young girl named Reggie. Reggie is left to fend for herself because her mother Mona spends most her time in her own mind.

Tough Girl was written by author Libby Heily and is her first novel. Heily is known for her short stories.

This is a fiction book based on a young girl in 7th grade. Reggie has no friends, has never met her father, encounters bullies and her mother is mentally incapable of taking care of her. She has to fend for herself, including dump
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a story that skirts the edges of actually becoming a transgressive fiction work, Tough Girl is both emotionally demanding and disturbing while managing to craft a protagonist that is as admirable as her situation is deplorable.

This is not a “light read” nor should it be taken as such, but there is great beauty and insight within. Part of that beauty comes from the all too realistic depictions of a family on the edge, battling poverty, mental illness and violence: all told from the point of t
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Tough Girl is the story of Reggie, a girl who is bullied relentlessly at school and then comes home to a mother with serious mental health issues. She escapes by creating an alter-ego (TG/Tough Girl). Reggie writes sci-fi type stories about Tough Girl but TG also 'visits' Reggie and talks her through some of her toughest situations. When Reggie's mother disappears, the line between her real and imaginary worlds becomes blurred. Can she save herself before it is too late?

Overall, I appreciated To
Lu (Sugar & Snark)
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-review
This is one of the strangest and most exciting books I have read in a long time! Reggie is one fascinating character! Poor and hungry, bullied and mistreated by life and society, she keeps her head up and tries her best. But she has a coping mechanism = Tough Girl. TG helps her by escaping reality and be who she wishes she could be.

 photo tumblr_m7q6xj42Ti1qgccr4o1_500-1421264885_zpscvpmvuwd.gif

This book definitely makes you feel and appreciate your circumstances and you end up feeling really bad for Reggie, and even more connected to her. This story is hau
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone willing to give it a try. YA readers.
I don't really know what to say about Tough Girl.

I kind of feel like I've just woken up from a very bizarre dream, the real and fantasy worlds of Reggie's blurred considerably. Sometimes it was obvious which was which, other times not so much and that became a little confusing.

The book had me second guessing my instincts about characters, plot and even the ending. It forced me to see things like Reggie, the craziness and the reality all mixed in together, and that made for a bit of a strange r
Witchy Reviews
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This review was brought to you by Galinda at Witchy Reviews

The moment I started reading "Tough Girl," I couldn't--and wouldn't!--put it down. In fact, I've been done with it for a few days but didn't know how to wrap my head around the novel enough to begin to review it.

Reggie's story is so perfectly told by Heily. Reggie, as the synopsis tells us, doesn't have the easiest of lives. She is the victim of frequent bullying at school, lives on the rough side of town where she falls asleep to the so
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough girl was a lot darker YA book than I'd been expecting going in but it was a great read, I actually liked the gritty side to it, it gave the book a feeling of realism to the story.
As Reggie starts to get lost in her own world the lines of reality and fantasy start to blur together and it's not always easy to tell as the reader which is which as you get lost in Reggie's world alongside her.
It was hard to see the tough life she has and the rough neighbourhood she lives in and I could understa
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic! The writing is superb, and the story is fascinating.

I won't go into the plot details, as you can get that from other reviews here, but this book not only resonated with me, as someone who was bullied as a kid, but also kept my attention throughout, leaving me needing to know what happens next.

At first, the alternate universe created by Reggie, the main character, is a little strange, but as the book went on, it was fascinating to see the level of detail that Reggie was a
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While ‘Tough Girl’ is about an eleven year old girl, it is not childlike at all. Ms. Heily has written ad beautifully poignant novel which will haunt you. I stayed up late reading ‘Tough Girl’ because I had to know what happened next and it was well worth the loss of sleep. I was sucked into Reggie’s story because Ms. Heily makes you feel every bit of Reggie’s emotions along with her. Reggie doesn’t have a great home life as her mom is mentally ill and slips away more and more each day. So Reggi ...more
Veronica Morfi
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough Girl was the dark tale of Reggie, a girl with a lot of everyday troubles which she decided to solve with the help of her imagination. Reggie's life is far from perfect, she gets bullied and her mother is lost inside her own world. So Reggie escapes in her fantasy world more and more and finally it gets really hard to understand what's real and what's not, even for the reader.

This book introduces us to the dangerous, sad and lonely world that Reggie has to live in. Definitely not a world fo
Keith Parrish
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Libby Heily has written a captivating and fascinating first novel. Reggie is a girl whose mother is mentally ill and as a result, the two of them are living on the very outer margins of society. Reggie deals with this by escaping into a fantasy world of her own creation. As Reggie is literally scrounging in order to survive, her world continues to spiral out of control, and the control she exerts on her fantasy world becomes tenuous at best. Beyond that, I will not say for fear of giving too muc ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing

There are very few books that blow me away, this, however, was one of them. Written from the perspective of Reggie, a girl with more to deal with than the bullies that seem out to get her. With a missing mother, the only way she finds of coping is to slip into the fantasy world she's created. As time goes on with no sign of her mother and facing ever increasing issues such as hunger, homelessness, and bullies, the two worlds of fantasy and reality start to merge in strange pathways.

The exp
Frank McKennedy
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great Read!

The author the author very effectively draws the reader into the mind of the protagonist, Reggie, and takes one on an obstacle course with land mines along the way. The characters are threatening with increasing intensity, the dialogue adept , the encroaching darkness grim and the conclusion a surprise. Libby is a certainly a new artist to watch and read.

Why four and not five stars. Two areas where I was left wanting more. First, the character development of the secondary antagonists
Elizabeth Seckman
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this story. Tough Girl isn't a child's take, though it is about a child. It's a very dark, heart wrenching tale of mental illness and the struggles of Reggie to survive her environment. I was so taken by the story and by Reggie`s character, I completely overlooked the foreshadowing and symbolism in the subplot, so the ending was a bit of a shocKer. But a good shock; one that left me I should have seen that! Well done Me. Heily!
Luanne G. Smith
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't let the age of the main character fool you. This is not a Young Adult book. It is a book for grownups, and one that will break your heart when you get to know Reggie and the circumstances in which she is forced to live. The harsh conditions of living on her own push Reggie into a fantasy life where her alter ego, Tough Girl, lives up to her name. A well written story with believable characters.
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Young Adult Ficti...: This book will blow your mind 1 37 Feb 11, 2013 02:34AM  
Paranormal and Fa...: Tough Girl by Libby Heily Giveaway 1 7 Jan 23, 2013 04:38PM  
  • Heir to the Underworld
  • It Can Happen to You: Series of Short Stories
  • Never
  • The Genesis (Blood of Ages, #1)
  • Angels Crest
  • League of Somebodies
  • The 5 Moons of Tiiana (The Chronicles of Rez Cantor, #1)
  • The Medic's Homecoming
  • The Wisdom to Know the Difference
  • Taylor's Ark (Taylor's Ark, 1)
  • Coveted (Coveted, #1)
  • Time and Forever
  • Blacker Than Blue (Vampire Sorority Sisters, #2)
  • Why I Must Lie (To Guard and To Guide #1)
  • Insanity (The Vampire's Heart, #1)
  • His Dark Lady (Lucy Morgan, #2)
  • India Black and the Shadows of Anarchy (Madam of Espionage Mystery, #3)
  • Retrieved (The Shapeshifters' Library #2)
I was born during a blizzard. I’m told it was pretty cool, but I have no memory of that time. I grew up in two tiny towns in Virginia and spent most of my twenties moving around the US. I’ve lived in Virginia, Florida, Missouri, and Washington. I’ve settled down, for now, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I’m a writer and improviser. I studied acting in college but spent more time rewriting lines than me
More about Libby Heily

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • Son of the Dawn (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1)
    $2.99 $1.49
  • Sanctuary (Nomad, #2)
    $4.99 $2.49
  • Genome (The Extinction Files #2)
    $5.99 $2.49
  • The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Mechanica (Mechanica, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Wired (Wired, #1)
    $6.99 $2.99
  • Bandwidth (An Analog Novel Book 1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension, #1)
    $3.99 $1.49
  • Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Bees
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Land: Founding (Chaos Seeds, #1)
    $2.99 $1.49
  • The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • Fool's Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Gone (Gone, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Friday
    $6.99 $2.99
  • Dhalgren
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Moon Chosen (Tales of a New World #1)
    $8.51 $2.99
  • Homeworld (Odyssey One, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Recurve (The Elemental Series, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Deviants (Dust Chronicles #1)
    $4.49 $0.99
  • Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles, #1)
    $6.49 $1.99
  • The Kill Society (Sandman Slim, #9)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Out of the Black (Odyssey One, #4)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Acacia: The War with the Mein (Acacia, #1)
    $7.99 $2.99
  • The Menagerie
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Infinite (Gates of Thread and Stone #2)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Black Bird of the Gallows
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Eighth Grave After Dark (Charley Davidson, #8)
    $8.99 $2.99
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »