I find it funny how the books I turn my nose up at are often the books that I end up enjoying the most. That was the case with The Girls I’ve Been — the cover caught my eye, but the synopsis didn’t thrill me, so I kept putting off giving it a try. However, once I made the decision to pick up this book and begin reading it, I was hooked!
At first glance, Nora O’Malley looks like your typical teenage girl with typical teenage problems. She’s just realized that she likes her friend, who is a girl, as more than just a friend, and she’s still dealing with the aftermath of her ex-boyfriend finding out that she’s bisexual and is now in a relationship with a mutual friend. Her mom hasn’t been the best role-model in many ways, so Nora finds herself turning to her older sister, Lee for advice and for help when things turn rough. So, when Nora, her ex, and her boyfriend are taken hostage during a bank robbery, the first person Nora thinks of to help them out is her sister.
It turns out that Nora’s family has a bit of a reputation in their town. She is the daughter of a master con-artist and has been witness (and unwilling participant) to many of her mother’s cons over the years. It may seem as though Nora and her friends are at the mercy of the bank robbers, however, Nora has inherited her mother’s con-artist mind and quickly puts it to work, to her advantage.
This book sounded a bit predictable and boring to me at first, but let me reassure any doubters that The Girls I’ve Been isn’t a dull read in the least. In fact, I found myself unable to put this book down until I got to the end. This book is fast-paced and surprising, and I’m so glad that I decided to give it a chance.
Review of a Digital Advance Reading Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Profanity/Language: 23 religious exclamations; 20 mild obscenities; 4 religious profanities; 4 derogatory names; 49 scatological words; 11 anatomical terms; 57 F-word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: A scene occurs where a man in a bank pulls a gun on teller and customers; a group of people are taken hostage in a bank robbery, several of them are minors; a girl mentions that her mom is in prison; a scene occurs where a man is shot in the arm and blood is mentioned to drip down his arm; a man is reported to have been in a car accident and in the hospital; a mention is made of a father having died; a boy is mentioned to have bloody knuckles; a girl recalls seeing scars on the body of her friend and having a conversation about physical abuse; a brief scene occurs where a girl is dragged by her arm and dropped on the floor by her captor; a man threatens to shoot his hostages; a girl mentions that she was abused by her stepfather repeatedly and mentions a specific time when he hit her and she began to bleed and when he was approached by his wife he hit her too; a boy mentions that his mom died in a car accident when he was very young; a girl sustains bruises on her wrists after being in a physical fight with a man; a boy is mentioned to have a bloody lip after a brief fight with an adult; a brief scene occurs between a captor and hostages where punches are thrown; a girl has a recollection of a fight between her and her stepfather, he chases her and a few injuries occur with some blood; a minor receives death threats from her stepfather; a man is mentioned to cut off the fingers of his enemies and feed them to alligators; a game of truth or dare is mentioned to end in a girl spraining her wrist and almost falling off of a roof; a brief scene occurs where a girl finds her friend laying in a lot of blood and she tries to help him clean up, he is mentioned to have many bad cuts to his back that are difficult to heal and the girl realizes she wants to hurt the boys father who did this to him; a man is referred to as being abusive; a girl remembers a scene where a fight occurs and in self-defense, she causes a man to bleed on a couch and blanket; a brief altercation occurs where a man hits a girl and she falls to the floor; a girl realizes her captor is threatening to rape her or her friend; a scene occurs where a girl uses scissors in self-defense against a man who is attacking her, the man tries to choke her and she continues to stab him with the scissors while he pushes her to the floor; a girl recalls a fight between her and her stepfather when she used knitting needles to stab him in self-defense, some blood is mentioned; a fight is reported to occur where a man hits a woman and a girl; a woman and girl are referred to as victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse; psychological abuse is mentioned; a girl is mentioned to have been made to wear a rubber band around her wrist that her mother uses to snap her as punishment; a man is mentioned to slap a girl; a brief scene occurs where a man hits his wife and draws blood; a bomb is detonated and a girl observes that it causes a man to be badly burnt and his skin to be bloody and destroyed; a girl shoots a man in self-defense in one brief scene; a girl is mentioned to be pulled from a burning building while others are trapped inside; a grenade is mentioned to be thrown and a car goes up in flames; a girl recalls a scene where she hit a man wo was chasing her over and over with the sharp edge of a box until he goes limp; a brief scene occurs where it is implied that a girl cuts a mans finger off; a girl uses a knife to defend herself from a man who is attacking her, some blood is mentioned; a man hits a girl in one brief scene.
Sex/Nudity: Two girls realize they are attracted to each other and are mentioned to stand closely together so their bodies brush; a brief scene occurs where a girl recalls her ex-boyfriend walking in on her and her girlfriend making out; a girl realizes she is bisexual; girls are mentioned to be in a relationship for some time and kissing is referenced; women are mentioned to be viewed as sexual objects; a girl realizes that she has been touched violently more than she has been touched lovingly; a brief conversation occurs where safe sex and STI’s are referred to; a man is mentioned to be in an extra-marital affair; a boy and girl express their desire to kiss one another; a girl is mentioned to have been molested; a girl questions her mom about sexual activity; a girl refers to her sexual knowledge as limited to violent encounters; a group of boys catcall and whistle at a girl in a bikini in one brief scene; girlfriends kiss and embrace in a brief scene; a brief scene occurs where a woman confides in a younger girl that she had sex with a guy and got pregnant and then had an abortion.
Mature Subject Matter:
Divorce; gambling; adultery; robbery; physical abuse; bi-sexuality; verbal abuse; hostages; domestic violence.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Sobriety mentioned; a minor finds mini bottles of vodka; drug dealing is referred to; a minor is mentioned to always be stoned; a minor accidentally eats pot cookies and gets high; adults are mentioned to drink beer; an adult is mentioned to be drunk; an adult is mentioned to drink glass after glass of wine.