Time has flown by, but with this book, my book club will have been meeting for ten years! It’s been a great way to stay connected with friends and read books I might not otherwise read. I’m grateful that someone (I can’t remember who at this point) had this wonderful idea. We even kept it going during Covid with video chats. Because we started our book club with a young adult thriller (Divergent), we decided to mark our ten-year reunion with a young adult thriller as well. After a quick google search, we chose The Girls I’ve Been (2021) by Tess Sharpe.
The blurb was very promising. It said that this is a feminist book being made into a Netflix movie starring Millie Bobbie Brown. The main character, Nora, is the daughter of a con artist. When she becomes a hostage in a bank robbery, she must use everything she’s learned to get out alive.
The book begins with Nora meeting up with her ex-boyfriend, Wes and her new girlfriend, Iris, to deposit some charity funds in the bank. While waiting in line, two men hold up the bank. They end up barricading the doors and taking everyone in the bank hostage. At some point Nora is able to contact her sister, Lee, who is a formidable force on her own, so they do have help on the outside. As the hostage situation progresses, we slowly learn about Nora’s childhood through flashbacks.
I should first say that this book was not what I expected. I guess I was thinking this was going to be a light-hearted romp ala Home Alone. Instead, there was a lot of violence. The bank robbers were violent: shooting people, stabbing people, punching Nora in the face, threatening sexual assault, knocking someone out. It was often unpleasant to read. In addition, all three protagonists dealt with varying levels and kinds of abuse as they were growing up. It was very heavy for a book that I thought would be light entertainment, which made it sometimes difficult to read. I did appreciate that their were sources for help at the end of the book, and I hope that kids reading this book who might need that help found this book more reassuring than triggering.
I also sometimes had problems with the believability of the storyline. One problem might be that we weren’t told the entire story. I definitely felt like there was room left for a sequel or two. So, maybe the bank robbers’ actions make more sense when we find out exactly what their goals were. But I also often felt that Nora’s actions were not the best option given her situation.
In the end, I’m not sure about this book. There were some good things, and it kept my attention. But I also probably don’t need to read a sequel–if there ever is one.
You can find all my reviews on my blog.