The Girls I’ve Been

I didn’t know about this book until I watched Theresa’s video and once I heard about it, I knew I had to read it.

Nora, Iris (her girlfriend), and Wes (her ex), are meeting up at the bank to deposit money from a fundraiser. Tensions are high between them. Nora and Iris kept their relationship a secret and Wes is their best friend who just so happened to have walked in on them making out. He’s not jealous, he’s hurt, and Nora knows that and feels guilty. So while their awkwardly making their way to deposit the money, they get caught in a bank robbery. Totally chill, right?

Nora has a secret. Well actually many secrets. These secrets just so happen to be the perfect aid to her current predicament. You see, Nora has been raised as a con artist. She knows how to swindle people and get them to do what she wants and give her what she wants or needs in the situation. So while trapped in the bank with two robbers who are stressed and angry, Nora does everything she can to keep people safe and get out of there as fast as possible.

This was quite the ride. There are many trigger warnings for this book including sexual assault, child sexual abuse, gun violence, blood, death, domestic abuse, and parental abuse. There’s probably even more that I can’t remember. And while this is all heavy, it is purposeful. None of it ever felt like it was being used to make the story more tragic or unbearable. The story is told in present and reflective parts. I say reflective because I’m not entirely sure what it’s called (whoops), but we get parts of Nora’s past in short little bursts. They aren’t true past perspectives, it’s definitely more from a perspective of looking back on the events. Each story built in intensity and showed the development of Nora and her relationship with her mother and sister, Lee. Lee is another prominent character in the present timeline of the story, she’s outside the bank doing everything she can to make sure she can get Nora out there safe.

The tension and anxiety of this book is amazing. From the length of it you know not everything is going to work out right away, but you’re still so hopeful. Maybe the next 250 pages are them in therapy and hanging out together and talking to each other! Maybe everything gets wrapped up really nicely and we get to see everyone safe an happy! Ha. No. That would obviously not make for a good book, but a person can dream, right? But it’s a testament to just how stressful it is that I wanted everything to turn out OK right from the jump. The secrets that are revealed slowly really add to the tension and it makes the urge to keep reading really high. The best part is that the chapters are short! Hallelujah I love a good short chapter novel. It made it so quick to read and gave so much more information in digestible pieces.

I really like Nora and her complicated past and present. Her relationships with Iris, Wes, and Lee were incredibly distinct and nuanced and I really loved that each was obviously handled with care and intention. In fact, this entire book felt intentional. In longer contemporary books I feel like there’s a lot of filler and that wasn’t the case here. Nora having so many layers to her story made her a really compelling character and how the secrets were revealed made me desperate to find out more. The secrets are intense. No sugar coating it. There’s a reason there are so many trigger warnings for this book. Nora’s relationship with her mom is not great. Her mom is grooming her to be a con artist, a criminal, from a really young age. And I mean like five years old young. It’s so sad to see how her childhood played out, but you also know where she is now and what’s happening now and in some ways it made it worse, but in others it gave you some solace.

There’s a lot that I can say about this book, but most of it falls into spoiler territory so I’m just going to have to leave you with that vague recap. But I hope I’ve done enough to get you interested in the story. It’s a queer, ya thriller with a lot of action and a lot of emotion.

Published by keelinrita

A Chicago girl with a lot of feelings about fictional people.

2 thoughts on “The Girls I’ve Been

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