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The Girls I've Been

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  4,574 ratings  ·  1,081 reviews
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. Bu
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 26th 2021 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,574 ratings  ·  1,081 reviews

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daph pink ♡
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Okay so like Millie bobby brown is gonna play the role of Nora in netflix adaptation .

I am screaming.

Omg when I was reading I was thinking that this could be a really good for a movie adaptation and they like already announced everything.

⤵Detailed review

4* I was here for morally grey bi girls and I experienced so much more * stars

Welcome to chemistry class of Daph Pink , today we will learn the formula for the book The Girls I 've been (take notes students)

bank heist + dark past mystery +
may ➹
Tess Sharpe and her morally grey bi girl agenda never disappoint!


The Girls I’ve Been follows Nora, the daughter of a con artist, who gets caught in the middle of a bank heist with her girlfriend Iris and ex-boyfriend-but-still-friend Wes. Tess Sharpe’s books are always cutting, both her characters and her writing sharp and smart, and this is especially true in this novel. I love her portrayal of messy, morally grey girls, a little broken and battered but still fighting to survive. The way she
Susan's Reviews
Standing ovation for this deadly Con Game Masterpiece: 10 out of 5 Stars!

I could not put this one down!! I am still panting from the non-stop tension and action in this bank heist gone wrong!

Little did the robbers know that Nora was a superhero con artist extraordinaire! Nora rubbed ALL of her enemies' noses in the dirt - with a lot of help from her two equally talented friends. I love Tess Harper's bold as brass heroines. Wes (former boyfriend, current Franken-friend) and Iris (current girlfrie
Apr 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Personality Clash

I'm always on the lookout for something off the well traveled path and this appeared to fit the bill.

Nora couldn't have chosen a more inopportune time to make a bank deposit. She hadn't been inside but for an instant when two young men attempt to rob it and hold everyone hostage.

The timing is even worse for them however, because Nora has inconspicuous coping skills.

The bank robbery scenes played out minute by minute similar to a military countdown with a precise timeline. We
Elle (ellexamines)
god this is so fucking good it’s so fucking GOOD hello oh my god I wish I was joking when I say this is the best ya thriller I’ve read in years. I’m obsessed with everything about this, review to come

my best friend just borrowed this new copy from me, read it in a week, and is obsessed. I’ll take this as a good sign. I can't wait for the new Tess Sharpe god BLESS
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Girls I’ve Been is a gripping, twisty thriller unlike anything I’ve ever read. Taking place over the course of only a few hours, Sharpe takes her readers on a high-stakes journey through past, present and six very different girls.

Nora O’Malley, our main character, is truly the star of the show. She’s a morally grey badass ex con artist who would die for those she loves, what more could you want? The narrative style created a real connection with her and was both effortless and enjoyable to r
C.G. Drews
So all I need to hear is "con artist" and I instantly want to read a book. I did enjoy this! It's very fast-paced and punchy, and also deals with trauma and abuse with careful and thoughtful detail (I very appreciated this). It did feel like it was the bank robbers' unlucky day to have a bank heist where an ex-con-artist's daughter happened to be making a deposit. Nothing went well for them when Nora decided she would not sit by and let it happen. Sirs, you should've just left 😪

While the main pl
katie ❀
[3.5] the girls i've been is an eerily and intricately written thriller like no other. although i'm not usually into the genre, this one held me captivated, mesmerized within its grasp.

the majority of this book takes place over the course of almost three hours, and while it seems like an unimaginable feat to fit a whole book into it, sharpe manages to pull it off. the predictability of the story is balanced on the tip of a knife, you just need to wait to see which way it will fall.

sharpe talks
Maddie (Inking & Thinking)
Apr 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
⭐️ 4 Stars ⭐️

Nora O’ Malley has been lots of different girls. Her mother is a con artist who targets criminal men, taking Nora for the ride. But on one of her mother’s con, she falls for the mark. Nora decides to pull the biggest con, which is an escape from that life. Ever since then, Nora has been playing a normal life. But she’ll need to dust off her skills after three problems start to arise.

- Her ex walked in on Nora and her girlfriend, Iris. They are all friends, but Wes didn’t know
- The
Melanie (mells_view)
You can’t con a con artist. Isn’t that what they always say?

Content warnings from the author:

The Girls I’ve Been at it’s base is a twisty YA thriller following a teenage girl named Nora, who was raised by a con artist to be a con artist. She, her best friend, and her girlfriend are being held hostage in a bank heist, and Nora uses her retired con savvy to hopefully get them out alive. If you read TGIB, then you will find the story is more than a YA thriller. It’s an exploration in
Katerina  Kondrenko
5.5 out of 10

I'm struggling with the genre this book is written under. It's a mystery, contemporary, thriller, romance, queer story, heist... As if the story can't decide which way to take for good and tries all genres it can.

What I Liked
- How mother and daughter problems are portrayed without sidestepping, with all love, cruelty, and truth.
- How a love triangle that is not a really love triangle is held.
- Queer romance feels right and not far-fetched like in many books I've read befor
Colleen (Colleensreadingadventures) Scidmore
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 also wouldn’t
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-2021
UPDATE: You can now read my full thoughts on this, the best book I've read so far this year, on my blog!

oh my god. OH. MY GOD.

review to come soon but until then:

• found family
• wlw between bi mc and bi/pan li with endometriosis
• lovers to friends/franken-friends/family
• survivors
• con artistry

the full list of trigger warnings can be found here
my therapist: so, basically, you've been crying and screaming over one book...for an entire week?

me, obviously not okay: you look at me like i'm being dramatic???

i am, in fact, not being dramatic. this is tess sharpe's power, okay? i mean, what do you expect me to do when you give me a young adult thriller that has it all, including:

- a unique, intricately plotted story
- powerful messages, writing and ending
- strong female characters
- complicated backstories
- morally grey goodness
- amazing chara
Jun 12, 2021 marked it as dnf
DNF @42% just not vibing with this rn. might pick it up later
Tess Sharpe
Aug 25, 2020 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Hi everyone!

Tess Sharpe here. I thought I'd drop a link to the Content Warnings for this book, for anyone who needs them.


Take care,

this is YA thriller at its best. i'm in awe. whoever compared it to "aftg if it was good", you were right. thank you to bie & quinn for yelling @ me about this book so i finally read it 🤍

trigger warnings: violence related to a bank robbery, violence related to surviving domestic violence, children and teens in peril, surviving psychological & emotional abuse, surviving parental abuse (psychological, emotional and physical), disclosure of being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse in a therapy s
ahaana ☽
I loved this book SO much omg!

It's a thriller that basically features the daughter of a con artist who's been taken hostage during a bank heist. It also features complicated friendship dynamics (franken-friends), a super unique storyline and plot, morally grey characters, important messages, hard-hitting writing and themes, strong female characters, the best platonic AND romantic relationships, complicated family dynamics and backstories, and if that wasn't enough, great mental health and LGBTQI
Angela Staudt
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Thank you PenguinTeen for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Girls I’ve Been was nothing like I was expecting and I mean that in the best way possible. I don’t even know what genre this falls into, as I swear it had every single one in this book. Such a unique book full of twists, but also full of tough subjects. The writing was spectacular and once I got a little way into the book, I didn’t want to stop reading. The past and present chapters and how short the chapters were had me flip
this was a quick and effortless read, but it deals with some heavy topics (in a really well done way!) so if you're not up for that, this is not the right book for you.

nora is a likeable character even though she's kind of morally grey. her past is quite essential and i liked getting to know more about her and the way she was raised in the flashbacks.

the bi representation was great! i loved iris and the way she talked about periods cups! more of that please! (and maybe make it all gender inclusi
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up expecting a speedy, gritty thriller, which I fully got. But Sharpe way way overdelivers, weaving her suspenseful hostage tale into a brutally believable, deeply insightful character study of an abuse survivor who's forced to rebuild her identity from the ground up. My first Sharpe since the magnificent Far From You (which includes the best depiction of chronic pain I've seen in YA), and now I've gotta catch up on all her backlist. ...more
Jaye Berry
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
TWs: there are a ton and the author has written them all in detail here and you should have a read before going in.

Absolute fucking banger.

The Girls I've Been is about a girl who goes by the name Nora who has been a bunch of different girls growing up. Her mother was a con artist who would run different cons on men, and Nora's job was to be the perfect daughter to them. On a trip to the bank, Nora and her ex boyfriend and current girlfriend are put into a sticky situation: someone is robbing it.
sara ❀
no thoughts, head empty; i believe in something called 'tess sharpe supremacy.' ...more
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
On my blog.

Rep: bi mc, bi/pan li with endometriosis

CWs: child abuse, domestic abuse, violence, threats of rape, implied torture, implied child sexual abuse

Galley provided by publisher

Tess Sharpe is the author of probably two of my favourite thrillers: Far From You and Barbed Wire Heart. So, it comes as no surprise that I loved The Girls I’ve Been just as much. The book covers darker topics than Far From You did, closer to Barbed Wire Heart in terms of tone, and it does so with respect and gr
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
When I found out this has been opted for a Netflix show I had to get it into my hands a read it. I really enjoyed the main character and her back and forth story and truly understanding her more and more of who she is. I really enjoyed the whole scenario taken place in a bank during a robbery and find different ways of how you are going to escape. A solid read from me B+
Donna Backshall
3 1/2 stars for the story, 2 (grudging) stars for the audiobook narration

Shaking my head here. The production of the audiobook was WAY off. It's like whoever was directing this production said "Over-act everything. Make every word sound like you're spitting it out in excruciating pain." As a listener, the (at best) tremulous or (at worst) agonized delivery got old fast. I can't say how many times I rolled my eyes.

Every exposed secret can't be THE THING that breaks you.

I wish my library had the K
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: if you wanted sapphics in aftg
someone gave me a book with a bisexual abuse survivor with an thrilling plot and sapphic established relationship and wow?? absolutely loved it

We follow Nora, the daughter of a con-artist who finds herself trapped in a bank during a robbery with her girlfriend, Iris and her ex-boyfriend, Wes. The narrative is non-linear and we see flashbacks to the past and the robbery, seeing how the girl's she's been have helped shape who she is now. I wanted to know more about both her past lives and the pres
akacya  ♡̷̷ˎˊ
This started off as a good book, but as it went on it lost its allure. With every “new” girl introduced, it became more and more repetitive. However, it did become better at about 80%, which definitely helped its case!
Kitty Reads
Jun 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THIS WAS SO GOOD I READ IT ALL IN ONE DAY it was so page turning and the characters were so easy to like and enjoy and relate to and i LOVED the writing and layout style with the present vs past just like it’s so good go READ IT and it’s GAY
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I will absolutely read anything Tess Sharpe puts her name on. I didn’t even need to read the synopsis to need my greedy eyes on it.

I love love loved Nora. She’s smart and resourceful and strong af. It was easy to root for her from page one and heartbreaking to read some of what she’d gone through. I loved Wes and Iris and the found family aspect of this story.

Plot wise, it was fantastic. I loved the past and present time flip way that the story unfolded and couldn’t get enough of whichever sec
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I do not read my goodreads mail, but if you'd like to contact me the best way to reach me is tess(at)

Born in a mountain cabin to a punk rocker mother, Tess Sharpe grew up in rural California. She lives deep in the backwoods with a pack of dogs and a growing cabal of slightly feral cats.

Articles featuring this book

Oh hey, we're nearly halfway through 2021! We can't really believe it either... Traditionally, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial...
83 likes · 13 comments
“There is no normal. There is just a bunch of people pretending there is. There's just different levels of pain. Different stages of safe. The biggest con of all is that there's a normal.” 9 likes
“What didn't kill me didn't make me stronger; what didn't kill me made me into a victim.
But I made me stronger. I made me into a survivor.”
More quotes…