“The Girls I’ve Been” Intrigues Readers with Complex Plot and Characters

Natalie Hannah, Staff Writer

17-year-old Norah O’Malley, who, when finding herself a hostage in a bank robbery, must use her wits and skills as a con artist to help her ex-boyfriend Wes, current girlfriend Iris, and herself survive. 

I really enjoyed this book! It’s perfect for feminists, teens, and fans of authors like Becky Albertalli and Emma Lord. The strong female characters as well as the diversity and romantic elements present add to the appeal of the book as a whole.

“The Girls I’ve Been” has a very intriguing plot that kept me turning the pages. It had the perfect amount of humor, while at the same time discussing some more serious topics, as some of the characters experience rape as well as domestic abuse. One thing I really enjoyed about the book is how Sharpe goes back in time, showing Norah’s life before as she took on many different personas at the will of her mother, helping her to con men out of their money. Her mother made her take on different personalities during each con, becoming a completely different girl to gain the trust of different men, eventually allowing her mother steal their money before moving on.

In the present, Norah must use the lessons she’s learned from the titular “girls she’s been” to keep Wes and Iris safe. The main thing I liked about the use of flashbacks is that they make Norah a very complex and unique character, by showing how her past experiences impact her current actions. 

Sharpe includes lists of the main character’s resources and plans at the start of many chapters. (Natalie Hannah)

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was how Sharpe included a list at the top of every chapter that takes place in the present, showing the supplies Norah has to use and her current plan of escape. It is a great addition to the book that makes the story even more real. It also allows the reader to think of what they would do in her situation and how they could use the resources at their disposal to escape.

Sharpe’s inclusion of the lists give a sense of progression to the whole story and shows a snapshot into Norah’s mind as she works to outsmart the two bank robbers who grow increasingly more dangerous as the story progresses and Norah learns more about them. 

Furthermore, the book has been quite successful, so much so that a feature film based on the book starring Millie Bobby Brown is currently in pre-production.

Overall, I would give this book 4.5/5 stars, because of its great plot and complex characters.

Tess Sharpe’s 2021 book “The Girls I’ve Been” is about a young girl using her skills as a con artist to try to survive a bank robbery. (Natalie Hannah)