Novel Approach: YA novel 'The Girls I've Been' crackles with intrigue and twisty con men

“Anyone who has a continuous smile on his face conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.” — Greta Garbo

Everyone has secrets or parts of their past that they don’t like to reflect on or share, but some of us have more than a few skeletons rattling around in our closets. Our latest read transports us to a bank in a tiny California town where one teen’s secrets might be the only thing that will get her out of that bank alive.

‘The Girls I’ve Been’

by Tess Sharpe

Tess Sharpe presents a brilliant and edgy teen tale in “The Girls I’ve Been.” When a routine trip to the bank with her ex and her new girlfriend goes south after a pair of bumbling robbers hold up the bank, Nora finds herself in a difficult situation ... but not the worst situation she’s been in.

To save her friends and everyone else in the bank, Nora has to fall back on a skill set she hasn’t used in years, using con artist tricks her mother taught her to foil the robbers. The problem is Nora isn’t who she says she is, and to get everyone out safely she’ll have to do the one thing that doesn’t come naturally to her ... and tell her friends the truth.

“The Girls I’ve Been” is a quick read as Nora’s childhood trauma and abuse is peeled back one layer at a time, but readers be warned, Nora isn’t the only character in this young adult novel who is trying to move on from their past. The novel explores the emotional, mental and physical abuse the different characters have faced.

Sharpe crafts a tightly plotted thriller as she describes each moment of the bank robbery and how Nora is able to quickly adapt and plot her next plan of attack.

As the book goes on, one thing becomes very clear: Nora is a survivor and she’s not going down without a fight.

Because it is crackling with tension and intrigue, readers won’t be surprised to learn “The Girls I’ve Been” is already in the process of being adapted into a Netflix series starring “Stranger Things” and “Enola Holmes” actress Millie Bobby Brown.

From the book jacket…

Nora O’Malley has 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 beng 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, the three of them have to meet to deposit the fundraiser money they raised in 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 ...

If you enjoy…

Those looking for more young adult thrills might enjoy reading “One of Us is Lying” by Karen McManus, which tells the story of how a student mysteriously dies during detention with four other classmates present.