When my friend Jaye calls a book a banger you know it’s going to be great – and she’s not wrong when it comes to The Girl’s I’ve Been. It’s a YA thriller about a con artist told in dual timelines – both of which are so gripping that the book is impossible to put down. With a witty, clever protagonist and a plot that will make you feel things, this is a story you do not want to miss (and yes, it will make a fantastic movie).
Star rating: 4 stars
Nora O’Malley has a lot of secrets in her life but right now she’s trying to deal with still being friends with her ex-boyfriend Wes along with dating her new girlfriend Iris (oh, and all 3 of them are friends now, not to make it any more complicated). Also, we love a bisexual queen! The teens go to drop off some money they raised at the bank, but what do you know? It all kicks off when two thugs try and rob the bank, locking the customers and staff inside. Fortunately for everyone involved, Nora’s got some skills in her back pocket.
Brought up as a con artist, Nora knows a thing or two about starting a new life and playing a new role. In contrast to our first timeline that spans the hours of the bank robbery, the second follows Nora’s life before over many years. Her mother pulls her into conning people at a young age, making them the perfect mother-daughter duo to steal from powerful men with big secrets of their own. I’m not going to lie, these men deserve everything Nora’s Mum pulled on them, but it wasn’t fair to drag Nora into things. Her mother often uses her as a shield and expects Nora to take everything the men throw at her. It’s a terrible life, but the chapters that make up Nora’s previous life take us on a thrilling ride to find out how she got to where she is today.
The present day story is full of tension. It was hard to see Nora switch back to her old self, plotting and scheming away out of a situation that could leave her and her friends dead. But the process seemed to help her come to terms with who she is and to realise that she’s not an awful person, she’s just been groomed to have awful skills. Yet without those awful skills, people will die. The dynamic between Nora, Iris and Wes was also fantastic and definitely reminded me that they were just teenagers dealing with ordinary teenage dramas even though each one of them has trauma in their past. Not to mention Iris also suffers from endometriosis, which I might have to go to the doctor about myself at some point.
Honestly this book was great and so well executed. I think the only issue I had was that it was so fast that sometimes I didn’t quite feel connected to the characters. The ending is dramatic and satisfying, but the action got a little bit messy at times. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and if you like revenge stories with protagonists that will have you crying and laughing, this is a book for you.