Soon to be a Netflix film starring Millie Bobbie Brown! In this feminist, suspenseful thriller the daughter of a con artist is taken hostage in a bank heist—and will need to tap into all her skills in order to survive.
A BUSTLE, REFINERY29, COSMOPOLITAN, BUZZFEED and MARIE CLAIRE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK of 2021
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 her mom fell for the mark instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con: escape.
For five years Nora's been playing at normal. But she needs to dust off the skills she ditched because she has three problems:
#1: Her ex walked in on her with her girlfriend. Even though they're all friends, Wes didn't know about her and Iris.
#2: The morning after Wes finds them kissing, they all have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised at the bank. It's a nightmare that goes from awkward to deadly, because:
#3: Right after they enter the bank, two guys start robbing it.
The bank robbers may be trouble, but Nora's something else entirely. They have no idea who they're really holding hostage . . .
Gr 9 Up-Until she was 12 years old, Nora, who is white, had many names. Each came with a unique personality designed to help her mother complete the con she ran with the men she targeted. Beautiful and blonde, athletic with dark braids, and other appearances, each girl served a purpose to pull the most money out of the game. The last con ended when her mother fell in love with a man who knew the game far better than she, leading to a disastrous confrontation that sends him and Nora's mother to prison. Rescued by her older sister, Lee, who escaped the same family dynamic, Nora is helped by therapy, her white best friend Wes, and her new love, freckled brunette Iris. Also children of abuse, they help her to regain a sense of who she really is. All of this is threatened, however, when one day they happen to be in a bank as a robbery unfolds. This action-packed story sizzles with suspense as Nora quickly grasps that this is a situation she not only understands, but all that she has learned until now can work in her favor. She is going to run a daring con to facilitate their escape. Told in alternating chapters as the bank con unfolds, readers meet each of the girls that Nora became, the results of their cons and how each shapes her, giving her the skills she uses now to escape. But Nora can't do this alone. VERDICT In this thriller, characters prove that they can rely on their strength, friendship, and desire to be the confident and caring people they know themselves to be.-Connie Williams, Petaluma, CAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
A BUSTLE, REFINERY29, COSMOPOLITAN, BUZZFEED AND MARIE CLAIRE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2021
A BEST BOOK OF JANUARY 2021 ON POPSUGAR, E! ONLINE, BOOK RIOT, BITCH MEDIA, LGBTQREADS, AND CULTURESS
★ “A captivating, explosive, and satisfyingly queer thriller.” — Kirkus, starred review
★ "An arrestingly incisive narrative . . . fiercely captivating and impressively characterized, this tightly plotted thriller is engrossing from start to finish." -- Booklist, starred review
★ "Not since Veronica Mars have hardscrabble swagger, enormous grief and teenage noir been combined into such a satisfying piece of storytelling. The Girls I've Been is a heart-wrenching, perfectly paced, cinematic thriller . . . a romance, a tragedy and a story about reclaiming agency and power. It is a triumph." —Bookpage, starred review
"This action-packed story sizzles with suspense . . . In this thriller, characters prove that they can rely on their strength, friendship, and desire to be the confident and caring people they know themselves to be." —School Library Journal
"Sharpe ( Barbed Wire Heart) focuses as much on [Nora's] trauma—and the systems of power that enable and excuse abuse—as on mystery and heart-pounding action . . . the small, complex cast of characters and emotional core make this a poignant thriller." -- Publishers Weekly
"The tension is absolutely nailbiting." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“A non-stop thrill ride… This book is so INTENSE. It jumps back and forth from the robbery in progress to Nora’s earlier life with her mother, a con woman married to a dangerous man. It’s so well done, extremely cinematic.” —Book Riot
“If you’re looking for a queer YA contemporary book with complex characters, loads of action to keep you reading WAY past your bedtime — and a story so well written I might have shed a tear over it — you need to read The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe. It will keep you captivated until the last page.” —Culturess
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 colony of formerly feral cats. She is an author and anthology editor, and has written several award-winning and critically acclaimed books for children, teens and adults.
Chapter 1: August 8, 9:09AM
It was supposed to be twenty minutes.
That’s what I told myself when I woke up that morning. It wouldbe just twenty minutes. We’d meet in the bank parking lot, we’d go in, we’d make the deposit, and it would be awkward, it would be so awkward, but it would be twenty minutes, tops.
I could survive twenty minutes with my ex-boyfriend and new girlfriend. I could handle the awkwardness. I was a freaking champ.
I even got donuts, thinking maybe that would help smooth things over after last night’s make-out interruptus, which I know is downplaying what happened. I get fried dough can’t fix everything, but still. Everyone loves donuts. Especially when they have sprinkles . . . or bacon. Or both. So I get the donuts—and coffee, because Iris is basically a grizzly bear unless she downs some caffeine in the morning—and of course, that makes me late. By the time I pull up to the bank, they’re both already there.
Wes is out of his truck, tall and blond and leaning against the chipped tailgate, the bank envelope with all the cash from last night next to him. Iris is lounging on the hood of her Volvo in her watercolor dress, her curls swinging as she plays with that lighter she found on the railroad tracks. She’s gonna set her brush-out on fire one of these days, I swear to God.
“You’re late” is the first thing Wes says when I get out of my car.
“I brought donuts.” I hand Iris her coffee, and she hops off the hood.
“Can we just get this over with?” he asks. He doesn’t even look at the donuts. My stomach clenches. Are we really back to this? How can we be back to this, after everything?
I press my lips together, trying not to look too annoyed. “Fine.” I put the bakery box back in my car. “Let’s go.” I snatch up the envelope from his tailgate.
The bank’s just opened, so there are only two people ahead of us. Iris fills out the deposit slip, and I stand in line with Wes right behind me.
The line moves as Iris walks over with the slip, taking the envelope from me and tucking it into her purse. She looks warily at Wes, then at me.
I bite my lip. Just a few more minutes.
Iris sighs. “Look,” she says to Wes, propping her hands on her hips. “I understand that the way you found out wasn’t great. But—”
That’s when Iris is interrupted.
But not by Wes.
No, Iris gets interrupted by the guy in front of us. Because the guy in front of us? He chooses that moment to pull out a gun and start robbing the freaking bank.
The first thing I think is Shit! The second thing I think is Get down. And the third thing I think is We’re all gonna die because I waited for the bacon donuts.