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The Girl I Used to Be

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Fourteen years ago, a three-year-old girl was the only survivor at a horrific murder scene. Now she’s determined to search for the truth—and the killer is even more determined to stop her.

When Olivia’s mother was murdered and her father disappeared, everyone suspected her father had done it. Fast-forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. Can Olivia uncover the truth before the killer tracks her down?

230 pages, Hardcover

First published May 3, 2016

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About the author

April Henry

37 books2,690 followers
I write mysteries and thrillers. I live in Portland, Oregon with my family.

If you've read one of my books, I would love to hear from you. Hearing from readers makes me eager to keep writing.

When I was 12, I sent a short story about a six-foot tall frog who loved peanut butter to Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He liked it so much he arranged to have it published in an international children's magazine.

My dream of writing went dormant until I was in my 30s, working at a corporate job, and started writing books on the side. Those first few years are now thankfully a blur. Now I'm very lucky to make a living doing what I love. I have written 27 novels for adults and teens, with more on the way. My books have been on the New York Times bestseller lists, gotten starred reviews, been picked for Booksense, translated into seven languages, been named to state reading lists, won the Anthony award and won the Oregon Book Award.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,200 reviews
Profile Image for Erin.
2,863 reviews489 followers
September 23, 2018
This is my first April Henry book and I'm fairly certain that it will not be my last. In the beginning it was the eye-catching cover and title that drew me in. Once I began reading, it only took a few pages for me to get hooked on this suspenseful mystery.

The story opens with 17 year-old Olivia Reinhart( once known as Ariel Benson), receiving a surprise visit from two police detectives. Olivia assumes that they've come to tell her,that her father, long suspected of killing her mother, has finally been placed in police custody. Startled, she soon learns that her father died- fourteen years ago, probably on the same day as her mother. What is even more horrifying is that Olivia realizes that it was her parent's killer that took her away from the scene of the crime that day. A killer that might still be interested in where little Ariel Benson is today.

Now an emancipated minor and assured the police have reopened the case, Olivia feels the need to return to her hometown of Medford. Even if it puts her in harm's way. Curiosity entices Olivia/Ariel to get closer to her parents neighbors and friends and try to piece together the truth about what happened to her parents all those years ago. But Olivia must also ensure that her identity is not revealed. Although it becomes clear that a few people, like childhood friend, Duncan cannot help but be drawn into Olivia's quest for the truth.

I really do believe young adult readers would enjoy the fast paced plot and short chapters. The vocabulary is moderate and would be easily understood by struggling readers too. Olivia/Ariel is a strong minded character and I liked that the focus was on solving the case and not just on the budding romance between Olivia and Duncan.

On the other hand, I cannot ignore a few niggling factors in the story. First, the police tell Olivia/Ariel that they've re-opened the case, but we never see or hear from them again. All the amateur sleuthing is done by two teenagers (teenage audience might like that though). Secondly, Olivia/Ariel wanders into town and immediately asks questions and rarely do people seem to question a 17 year old female who no one knows as to why she's prying into a double homicide. Thirdly, the reveal of the killer fizzled out for me. It didn't quite match the suspenseful vibe I got at the beginning of the story. Finally,the fairytale sheen at the end of the story with its "we're all happy and well adjusted now that the pesky problem of my parent's killer has been put to rest" was a little far fetched.

All in all, I want to emphasize that if you're looking for a quick read the book is well worth the reading time.

Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Krystin | TheF**kingTwist.
455 reviews1,719 followers
August 30, 2022
Book Blog | Bookstagram

There was some suspense at the beginning that I was hooked by, and there was some at the end, but I found the majority to be very much “maybe this boy likes me” focused and I could really do without that almost 100% of the time.

I read this because my stepson asked me to. He loves April Henry. So, considering that, I would probably recommend it to pre-teens who are into darker fiction.

⭐⭐ | 2 stars
Profile Image for Crystal.
449 reviews90 followers
March 20, 2016
I'm thinking I need to part ways with Ms. Henry. This is my third book by her and while I loved the first one I read these past two have really left me feeling meh. I'm used to "it's not you it's me", but in this case I really kinda think it was the book.

The first chapter was amazing, full of suspense, girl on the run from the killer, and terror. I liked it and after reading it I was ready for this story, but it all fell apart rather quickly. It all just felt very convenient. From Olivia deciding to move into her mother's old house which just recently became available to the whole town opening up about this unsolved case that happened fourteen years ago. I just didn't buy it. The way the events happened also just seemed to work in Olivia's favor. I mean she decides to go to a certain family members funeral but has no idea how she is going to get in because she wants to keep her identity a secret when in walks the elderly neighbor she used to know. I can't imagine anybody asking a complete stranger to give them a ride to a funeral. I know certain things were exposed later, but at this time the neighbor still had no idea who Olivia was so that was no reason for her to even ask.

I also didn't like how Olivia just moved into her old town and started asking questions about her parents and what happened fourteen years ago. Everybody in town thought she was a stranger so why in the world would they talk to her? And when did Olivia decide to start looking for the killer? This was never explained all we get to read is her many inner monologues asking herself could it be this person, that person, what motive. She was not a detective and she didn't have any clue who these people were. How did she know this person would even still be in the town?? See very convenient. I think way more ground work needed to be worked in for me to buy a lot of the things that the author was throwing out. I also kept having to remind myself that Olivia was not an adult, but the way the adults kept treating her and telling her things that really shouldn't have been shared with a teenager it was hard to remember that she was only seventeen. It almost felt like a TV show where everyone gets stuck in their small town and everybody still acts like they are in high school. It was so bizarre!

I don't know a lot of things didn't add up. The ending especially didn't work for me. The actual villain was out of nowhere and didn't make much sense to me. I get the why's and how's but the author could have gone in a much darker path and it would have made me forget a lot of the things that bothered me. I know she's capable of this because of her previous book, but she just closed everything up with a weird bow that didn't even match her story.

So I am going to part ways with Ms. Henry. After two disappointing books I can say without a doubt her stories are just not for me.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,676 reviews455 followers
January 7, 2019
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this was really good. I have had this book for years but it somehow got lost in my pile at some point. I am glad that I decided to dust it off and give it a try because it turned out to be quite an enjoyable read. This was my first experience with April Henry's writing and I am rather impressed. This was a really fast read and I loved the fact that the mystery kept me guessing until the very end. I found this to be an overall enjoyable read.

Olivia is a seventeen-year-old living on her own as an emancipated minor. She has spent years in the foster care system before going out on her own. Her life wasn't always like this. She had a family until her mother was killed when she was only three years old. She then lived with her grandmother until her death a few years later. Everyone always assumed that her father killed her mother since he hasn't been seen since that fateful day so many years ago. Oh, and her name was Ariel back then but that was really a lifetime ago. When new evidence that proves her father could not have been the killer, everything Olivia thought she knew is called into question.

I was really curious about what really happened to Olivia's parents. Olivia/Ariel was there that day but she was so young that she just doesn't remember. It was really interesting to watch her try to piece everything back together and figure out what really happened. There were so many possibilities and I never knew which way things would end up going. I have to admit that I didn't figure it out until everything was revealed which is just how I like it to go. There was a lot of excitement towards the end of the book and things were rather intense for a while but I was pretty satisfied with how everything was resolved.

I liked Olivia/Ariel. Considering everything that she has been through, she really has a lot to be proud of. She is a hard worker and is completely self-reliant. She was very focused on her task in this story and wouldn't let herself be distracted by romance, even though there is a touch of that in this story. I really liked how she was with Nora, the older woman that used to live next door to her grandmother.

I would recommend this book to others. I found it to be a fast-paced mystery that kept me guessing. This was the kind of book that can really hard to put down. I look forward to reading more of April Henry's work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
This was good. I really liked that this was a pretty fast moving story. I found the mystery to be very engaging. I liked Olivia/Ariel and thought that the way her past was described made her a bit easier to sympathize with. This was the first time that I have read any of April Henry's work and I really enjoyed her writing.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,691 reviews702 followers
April 3, 2016
I've read some April's other books and I really liked the premise of this one, so I was eager to read it.

I liked Olivia. Her situation is sort of unique and I was immediately intrigued. She was an interesting character and I enjoyed being in her head. There are a couple of other secondary characters, but to me, it felt like they weren't fleshed out. It was an effective way to show how Olivia felt ostracized.

The plot was fast paced, but it didn't seem like it. It was more like all of a sudden, the reveal was happening. I had a couple theories of what happened, but didn't quite figure it out.

Overall, a quick read with a satisfying ending. I'll definitely keep reading April's books.

**Huge thanks to Henry Holt and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Michelle (Pink Polka Dot Books).
493 reviews344 followers
June 4, 2016
This was one of those books that started off so fast and so attention-getting that it reminded me so much of the Mystery/Thrillers I grew up reading (and loving) as a Middle Grader in the 90's. Right away we learn that Olivia/Ariel's father's bones were found, meaning he didn't kill her mother, meaning there's a totally different killer out there. We also learn that Olivia was THERE when her parents were killed, but because she was so young she can't remember much at all. She decides to go back to Medford to see if she can shake any of those memories loose. While there she meets Duncan and Nora--- the 2 heroes of this book, in my opinion. Duncan is a childhood friend she can barely remember, but gets close to fast, and Nora is an elderly neighbor and one of the few people she does remember from her time in Medford. They become the only ones who know her true identity... it's kind of too dangerous to go around telling people that the only witness to the crime is digging around for answers.

I thought this was an entertaining. fast-paced book-- full of short chapters and a to-the-point plot. I appreciated reading a book that didn't take it's time getting to some big answers. It wasn't a deep book, but I need books like this in-between all the heavy stuff I usually read. I've been a big fan of April Henry's books (my fave is The Night She Disappeared), and I would definitely recommend this to younger readers. It's exactly the type of book I loved when I was younger because it is such a quick mystery.

I think I would have enjoyed this book even more if Olivia/Ariel wasn't such a Captain Obvious. She definitely ran around the town of Medford asking question after question to the point where people would have either told her to shut up or they would have outed her... I'm almost thinking both scenarios would have happened :) Also, the ending was not my favorite. I didn't guess the killer, but I thought he/she came busting out of the mystery-closet at a really early and odd moment. I wish the build-up was just a little bit more.

OVERALL: I love reading April Henry's books because they remind me why I love YA Mysteries so much. This one I would definitely recommend to younger (6-9th grade) readers. It reminds me of 90's thrillers like R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and Diane Hoh books.

My Blog:

Pink Polka Dot Books
Profile Image for Kathy Martin.
3,330 reviews73 followers
April 3, 2016
This was a fast-paced murder mystery. The story is told by Olivia, who used to be Ariel. She was three-years-old when her parents were killed. It was originally assumed that her father killed her mother and then dropped Ariel off at a Walmart three hours from the scene of the crime. When she was recognized, she was raised by her mother's mother until her grandmother suffered a heart attack and died when Ariel was seven.

Ariel spent years in foster care with one side trip when she was adopted, renamed Olivia, but then returned to foster care when her adoptive mother couldn't deal with Olivia's behavior. Now seventeen, Olivia is an emancipated minor working in the deli at a chain grocery store. When the news breaks that her father's jaw has been found, her world shifts. Her father was not a murderer who fled but another victim. It is now apparent that her mother and father were killed at the same time. It must have been their murderer who dropped her off at Walmart.

Olivia heads back to Medford, the place where she and her parents lived when they were killed, to attend her father's funeral. She meets the next door neighbor who was her grandmother's best friend and the cast of characters who were friends of her parents and who are now suspects in their deaths.

Olivia tries to keep her identity a secret so that she can investigate without drawing the attention of the possible murderer who might try to rectify the mistake he made by leaving her alive. She is recognized by the neighbor and by a boy who was a childhood friend. She also gets to know the many suspects. All of them seem guilty and all of them could have a motive for killing her parents.

I enjoyed this story and didn't figure out who the murderer was until Olivia did. Fans of mysteries will enjoy this story.
Profile Image for Anna {Follow me for reviews!}.
705 reviews159 followers
April 9, 2021
I did not expect that person to be the killer!

This book is about a teenage girl who suddenly hears on the news an old story about when her parents were murdered fourteen years ago. Following the funeral of her father, she decides it's up to her to find out who the killer was. She's promised in her mind to her parents that she will.
What I thought was a bit strange was how many people at the funeral did not recognize her, at least not for the longest time. If you knew her father, wouldn't you have known the little girl if you had any sort of relationship with the dude? And especially Nora. I felt like it was weird how she had no clue who Olivia was at first if they had spent so much time around each other when she was a little three year old.
Duncan was nice. I did like the fact that this story was not about the romance (there was basically none anyway) and instead focused on the mystery. I don't really read mysteries, especially who-dunnits, but April Henry's writing style is something I enjoy.
I also enjoyed the smoothness of the writing and the way the book wasn't going to be four hundred pages long and the first three hundred were just of people doing unimportant things. I do think that there should have been a few more clues maybe to figuring out who the killer was because that totally caught me by surprise. I was sure I knew who it was, but then again, I suppose I did go back and forth with the possibilities and I didn't want to trust anyone.

Sexy Stuff/Romance:
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,283 reviews217 followers
November 8, 2021

At age three, Ariel witnesses her mother’s murder, allegedly at the hands of her father. Fourteen years later an emancipated minor, her name now Olivia, her father’s bones are discovered at the murder site. The police now realize he was murdered that same snowy day. Though she has no memories of the day, Olivia returns to her home town to figure out who murdered her parents.

April Henry’s books are fun to read, though not especially memorable. I’m always happy when Kindle has them available for $2.99 or less. THE GIRL I USED TO BE was a fast pace, engaging read. Olivia, both sympathetic and likable, had no shortage of suspects amongst her parents’ young friends, old lovers and former classmates. Henry could have scripted a believable conclusion with any of them.

The whodunit answer was the weakest part of THE GIRL I USED TO BE, but didn’t feel like a letdown. Olivia/Ariel’s journey was the real story.

THE GIRL I USED TO BE is a fun read, though not a book I’ll reread.
Profile Image for Rachel Aranda.
869 reviews2,259 followers
September 16, 2022
3.75 stars rounded to 4 stars

This YA Mystery/Thriller was a nice mental break from the more serious mysteries and thrillers I read. There was a nice bit of romance since the main character is 17 years old, but she’s a more serious kind of protagonist since she’s determined to find who killed her parents. I will say that this girl could be a bit stupid when it came to decisions but Ms. Henry did a nice job explaining why those choices were made. Not my personal choices but not my life. She has also been stated as stirring up drama in town but she’s a new 17 year old in town sleuthing a case that people realize is a double homicide instead of a single homicide, of course drama is going to happen! As far as YA mysteries go, this was a really nice one.

My biggest grief with this book is how obvious the killer was made in the prologue. It was interesting seeing the ride of what all was going to happen once the killer was found out. The ending maybe tied up a little too nicely for some people, but I think it all made sense. Some people get lucky, and some people you never know just what secrets they’re hiding or how far they’ll go to keep them.
Profile Image for T.J. Burns.
Author 83 books44 followers
October 30, 2016
Exciting! The Girl I Used to Be pulled me right into the action and that’s what I like. I couldn't wait to start digging for answers. The sentences are short and crisp, moving the action along quickly. The chapters are also short, keeping the plot suspenseful.

The Girl I Used To Be was very well written, the plot moved along at a rapid pace, and the characters were interesting. I was given enough information as to figure out some of the mystery, but I kept second-guessing my suspicions, redirecting my suspicions, and then second-guessing my new suspicions.

Suspenseful, intriguing, well-written: 4 Stars.

I received a copy of this book from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

BUDDY READ: Mystery/Crime > The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry - Starting August 17, 2016

Profile Image for AziaMinor.
416 reviews50 followers
December 1, 2020
It was an ehh book. I keep finding them a lot lately although the mystery kept me from giving up entirely.
Profile Image for Sarai.
975 reviews13 followers
June 13, 2016
I was very disappointed in this book. For one thing, it was shallowly written. There was no depth to the characters, no growth, no interest.

SPOILERS throughout the rest of the text.

For another thing, I swear this is not the first April Henry book I have read where a grandmotherly figure gets murdered. Maybe I'm wrong, but I swear I read one not too long ago. Could have been a different author. The point is, why did she have to die? She didn't. It did not further the plot. The inference was that it was devastating to the main character, but really they'd only known one another for about a week or two, and it's not like they were spending all their free time together to create such a bond. I just didn't find that part believable. It would have been so much better to leave the older woman alive so they could become friends/family later.

One of my big pet peeves. I don't like to read books where animals get hurt. Kill off as many people as you like, but leave the critters alone. Why did the mama deer have to die? Really? You have to kill the mama deer? Mama and baby deer had already escaped a forest fire. What purpose did it have to kill the mama deer off? What was going to happen to the baby deer? No one said. No one cared. I guess they were just going to leave it out in the wilderness to die on its own.

The relationship with Duncan. They were friends as kids and he recognizes her. But two days together and they kiss, and then they just ignore the fact that they kissed? Because they're solving the mystery. Except the only way I ever saw them trying to solve the mystery was by eavesdropping on other people and one visit to the library to look up facts. The eavesdropping really didn't help. They didn't pick up any useful information from any of the other characters. There was no development of the case, no clues that got them moving forward in figuring out who the real killer was.

The real killer who accidentally killed Olivia's father and then killed her mother because he panicked, and then years later with premeditation kills a helpless old woman and accidentally shoots a mama deer to prove to the reader what a bad guy he is. Killing the old woman did not fit in with his prior modus operandi. It would also have been much more interesting to see him struggle with what he'd done and what he was going to do, to build some empathy for him, to have him cry and his gun hand shaking, to paint him as a real person who made a terrible mistake rather than just your stereotypical bad guy. Because he wasn't a cold killer who'd been out there taking people's lives all that time.

So, yeah, I was very disappointed in this book. I think the deer thing made me angrier than anything else. The lack of a real mystery. The lack of characterization. I will likely read her next book, though, because I have enjoyed them in the past. This one just didn't stand up to the others she has done.

Book Description:
When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

Profile Image for Poulami.
336 reviews40 followers
May 5, 2016
Originally posted on Daydreaming Books.

*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for this book tour in exchange for an honest review.*

I definitely liked reading The Girl I Used to Be. I hadn't read the mystery/thriller genre for some time now and I'm glad I read this book because I enjoyed the ride!

Olivia had lost her mother as a kid. According to the police, her father had killed her mother and ran away. But after fourteen years, new evidence point to the fact that her father was killed on the same day. Now, Olivia wants justice for her parents being taken away from her in such a young age. With a new identity, she returns to her old town. Will she be able to identity the killer before the killer identifies her?

The plot was quite suspenseful. Olivia was waiting for the police to catch her dad but what she learned was quite shocking- her father had been dead all along. Both her parents had been killed on the same fateful day. Olivia decides that she wants to find the killer, so she returns to her old town where she lived with her grandmother for a few years after her parents died. The plot managed to hold my attention from the very first page. I liked how everything flowed out.

Olivia was a nice character. She was strong yet caring and determined to find her parent's killer. I liked the other characters as well, they all played an important role in the book. But I could never guess who the actual killer was, I definitely liked how it was all revealed, though I was expecting some major ploy behind the murders, nonetheless I was satisfied.

Overall, The Girl I Used to Be was a nice read. The plot was engaging and it managed to hold my attention throughout the book. The writing was simple and smooth and the pace was even throughout the book.

Recommend it?

Profile Image for LeeAnne.
399 reviews15 followers
December 31, 2016
This was a very quick read for me and had me hooked at the beginning. I quickly found myself getting bored, however, as the author wrote so many questions in the middle chapters as the main character, Ariel, talked to herself and questioned everyone around her. The constant inner dialogue was just too much.

The murder of Ariel's mother sent her into the foster care system for many years, and many suspected her father for the murder since he went missing at the same time. During the course of the foster care years Ariel Benson's name is changed to Olivia Reinhart. When one of her father's bones is found at the crime scene 14 years later, Ariel decides to attend the funeral for her dad to see if she can discover who may have killed her parents. Posing as Olivia, she is hoping that the people will open up to a 17-year old stranger. They do, and that was strange and not realistic.

This is a fast paced mystery, and when you discover who is behind the murders and cover up, the story wraps up rather quickly, and I'm almost certain the author made an critical error in Chapter 40 when an important person says something to Olivia about "your parents." At this time, the character didn't know who Olivia really was, and the author never came back and addressed this realization.

Maybe this is a good book for the younger audience to read that are becoming interested in mystery, but I'm not certain I could recommend it to my students. For me, it was disappointing and rushed.
Profile Image for McCaid Paul.
Author 7 books43 followers
September 28, 2020
This contained all the ingredients to a perfect YA thriller:
-A thrilling climax
-An interesting plot
-Several character deaths (one that I did *not* see coming)
-End of chapter cliffhangers

But its downfall rested in its believability. To hitching rides with strangers, crashing at a stranger’s house, and attempting to throw herself in the middle of an investigation full of...well, strangers, the main character really tested my patience at times.
I wish I could say I was able to ignore this particular flaw of unbelievability as I often do with so many thrillers, but when the plot began to feel tired, the characters began to feel like stick figures, and the character’s useless questioning began to feel like an utter shot in the dark, I lost interest.
However, take my quibbles with a grain of salt. Others seemed to have enjoyed this a lot more than I did.
Aside from its faults, it ended up being a completely readable, simple murder mystery, with a climax that seemed to come out of left-field...in a good way. In contrast to most of the novel, the ending was an intense nail-biter flaunting the sheer suspense I’ve come to enjoy with Henry’s other novels.
Overall, it was a short read with a thrilling climax, even though it could use an upgrade in the pacing department.
Give this a try if you're looking for a quick, suspenseful mystery, but don't expect any big "twist".
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 24 books8,940 followers
March 20, 2017
This one was a great who-done-it. I really liked the heroine and found I could relate to her a lot, especially since I worked the exact same job at her age. Loved the old lady next door and the boyfriend and the setting! Feels like my own back yard.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,554 reviews389 followers
September 15, 2016
This book seemed so promising when I found it at the library. Short and intense. I was hopeful.
And for the first half, it was good. I like the pace the story takes and I like Olivia's character. She's driven but not immobilized by what happened to her parents. While I found it hard to believe that all these people who had known her since she was 7 didn't recognize her a few years later, I was even willing to suspend disbelief and embrace the small-town-horror-vibe.
Except that really isn't the vibe? I just wanted it to be?
In truth, this book was really unsuspenseful. The romance was so minimalist and random that it would have been better without it. You could have completely erased Duncan's character and not lost anything.
The killer was entirely obvious, entirely due to Chapter 1.
There was no twists, no suspense, nothing, really, that made this book remarkable. I like how short the chapters were?
Not worth the time.
Profile Image for Anne.
301 reviews41 followers
November 26, 2017
This was a very solid mystery.
It's told in 1st person from Olivia's point of view.

When she was 3, her mother was murdered, and her father -- who immediately disappeared -- was always thought to be the murderer.

Olivia is now 17 and emancipated from a child services system that she hated.
She grew up believing she was the daughter of a murderer, but her father's remains have just been found. Rather than being a murderer, he was a victim -- murdered at the same time as Olivia's mother.

But if her father was the victim, then the murderer is still out there.
And Olivia is determined to get justice for her parents and for herself.

The story draws you in from the first page.
Although this is marketed as a YA book, and the protagonist is 17, it felt more like adult fiction.
Olivia is emancipated, she lives on her own, and she is more mature than a typical 17 year old.

Regardless, it was a very good mystery, and a quick read.

Profile Image for Kathy.
2,072 reviews30 followers
November 16, 2021
Good characters and story. Didn't really grab me
Profile Image for I. Anamaria.
75 reviews18 followers
February 16, 2022
This was a really phenomenal mystery/thriller. It had me hooked from page one. I recommend it to anybody who likes a good murder mystery novel.
Profile Image for Evelyn.
37 reviews1 follower
October 12, 2016
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry is a very intense story with a plot-changing climax! Olivia's parents were murdered and no one knows who murdered Naomi and Terry. Many family members are suspected for different reasons, but Olivia is determined to find out who murdered them, no matter what it takes. I really enjoyed this book because the author gives a lot of hints throughout the story to find out the true suspect. This is one of my favorite mysteries. I really liked the idea of the whole story. This mystery story makes you want to keep reading on and on! By the end of the story, you really know the character traits of Olivia and why she does specific actions. She is really developed as a very realistic character. There were heart-touching descriptions Olivia says about her parents that make you want to jump into the story and give her a warm hug. I recommend this to anyone looking for a thrilling mystery, because you will not want to stop until the case is cracked!
Profile Image for Abbey.
640 reviews63 followers
July 3, 2017
THE GIRL I USED TO BE, April Henry, 2016. Stand-alone YA mystery/thriller; entertaining, fast-paced, predictable but very smoothly written and well-plotted, with no loose ends, an enjoyable read: 3.0/5.0

When she was three years old Ariel Benson saw her mother killed, and her missing father assumed to have done the deed and run away. Entering the fostering system, by age 17 she is on her own, capable and looking for the truth of what happened that frightening day so long ago, since she remembers very little about either of her parents. And now some of his bones have been found, and it becomes clear that he died the same day as her mother. Returning for his funeral she finds that with a changed name (a failed adoption by a long-ago foster mother) no-one seems to recognize her. To the little town where she had been born she is Olivia Rheinhart, and that no-one there questions it.

This is one of the implausible things that I actively dislike in mystery plots, where practically no-one "recognizes" a long-gone newly returned heroine who has changed so much that she can "pass" for somebody else, but it's smoothly done here, with only a bit of slight fudging to make things flow smoothly. But you will need to suspend belief that a girl who is repeatedly mentioned as looking very much like her mother did at the same age (17) and is now living in the same house, and spends most of her time in this small town asking questions about what happened is *not* going to be suspected as at least a relative of some sort? But the narrative flows along, and I went with it.

Ms. Henry also uses a technique that I abhor in adult mysteries but which works very well in a YA mystery: the device of very short, fast-moving chapters, each of which ends with a "thrilling!" hook. I'll grant that maybe YA readers tend to have shorter reading spans for plots, and are accustomed to, expect to have their stories rush along. Not often my favorite thing, but this was a very short read, and sped by before my slight annoyance was transformed into actual dislike.

April Henry can write very well. I enjoyed this quick read, possibly because I did not expect to be overwhelmed by complexity or a deeply twisted plot, and I wasn't. Yes there are decent twists in the plot, and the character revealed as the murderer in the last scenes is not sprung on us unexpectedly, for although we're not told much about him he *is* present in most of the group scenes of the novel. So it was fairly played. She could have given us a bit more about his background, though, but that's a small quibble.

Comfortable, fast-moving, well-structured and written, if this was promoted as an adult thriller I would have been PO'd; as a YA novel it was a very good thriller, 3.0 stars (and a bit more) out of 5, and recommended for YA and those adults who just want a comfortable, quick read.
January 19, 2020
This wasn't long, so I just read it in a day to see if I could get rid of it.

And yeah, I guess I am.

This book is definitely more of a mystery than a thriller. It doesn't get thriller-esque until the very last scene. And that one was good, I guess, but... I mean, geez, the killer reveal.

It felt so random. I genuinely don't know if you could've guessed the motive. It felt very out of left field.

Also, the mystery element is very weak here. Olivia consistently just happens to wander into places where key suspects happen to be. (The only time she actually hides somewhere to eavesdrop, it's just so she and love interest boy can share a kiss.) Every time Olivia talks to someone, they're more than willing to tell her everything they know about her parents and the murders. Every. Time.

It's very convinient.

The characters, for the most part, felt pretty one-deimensional. The only one I really liked was Nora. I did like Olivia and Nora's relationship.

The romance was very bleh to me. I feel like the book could have operated fine without it. Olivia is instantly interested in forming a relationship with Duncan, despite having no real reason for wanting this. They don't build up the fact that they were friends when they were kids, Olivia isn't desperate and looking for a shoulder to lean on... it's not a twisted romance like it could've been. (Dang it, now I want to read a YA thriller with a twisted romance. Recommendations?) It just felt... there.

I do like how much work it's clear that April Henry put into this book. She actually practiced running in the woods with handcuffs, she went to a hypnotist, and even the blue button necklace is a real thing that her mom gave her. So that's cool.

This book was really not for me, but it just fell so flat as a thriller or mystery that I didn't see any real enjoyment value in it. This is definitely not for adult thriller fans.

2/5 stars.
Profile Image for De'Siree Fairley.
494 reviews7 followers
August 13, 2017
3.75/5 stars

This was much better than expected. Advice for reading this book: go in with low expectations and you'll probably end up loving it.It was slow in the beginning but picked up about 60 pages in. The writing style was very minimalist, straight forward, and easy to read. I didn't misunderstand anything that was happening while I read the story. The characters were all quite standard but given just enough fleshing out and quirks that you know who they are and what type of person they are. This book is only 229 pages and yes I've read some short books with characters more fleshed out than this but I still loved Duncan and Olivia/Ariel. The mystery about who killed her parents isn't complex in the least bit but I was still hungry to know who did it which is why I'm giving it 3.75 stars. I liked it a lot and will definitely keep my copy, even recommend it to a friend as a relaxed read or beach read even. It lost points for unoriginality and lack of fleshing, but those didn't bother me at all while reading it. Give this book a go!
2 reviews2 followers
September 24, 2019
I would definitely recommend this to many people. I really enjoyed the twists and turns, from the beginning to the end of this book. My friend and I actually read this book together and couldn't uncover some of the mysteries till they told us at the end. The beginning of this book might be hard for some to get into because it's introducing the characters, also some backstories. I feel like they only do that to get it over with and also to give us suspects to keep in your personal check list. Which helps a lot when your trying to narrow things down in the end. I would give this book 4 stars because of the twists and turns and the characters you can relate too.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,941 reviews548 followers
August 25, 2018
The Girl I Used to Be was a quick YA suspense. I liked the story and how it wasn't a slow read. I was able to guess who the killer was pretty easily, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. I felt bad for the MC and how she lost both of her parents.
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