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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tess Sharpe's The Girls I've Been is a suspense thriller that involves being held hostage during a bank robbery. There's positive LGBTQ+ representation, and past emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and trying to heal from that are strong themes. Present-day violence includes shooting, stabbing, choking, punching, and a small, homemade explosive, with some pain described in detail and blood mentioned but not described in detail. Past sexual abuse, molestation, and rape are mentioned but not described. Sexual activity is mild with a few same-sex kisses, holding hands, and romantic dynamics. Some aspects of menstruation are discussed in detail. Strong language includes "s--t," "f--k," and "bitches."
What's the story?
In THE GIRLS I'VE BEEN, Nora's been grifting and learning the art of the con from her mother ever since she was a little girl. She had to change identities and personalities so many times that she started to lose all sense of who she really is. As she got older, the men her mother marked for cons became more and more abusive. Until her mother fell in love with the worst one of all. Nora managed to escape her mother's clutches and the abuses of her new stepfather, going into hiding with her older sister. Now living a fairly normal life, she's managed to start healing, going to school, and even making friends. Until the day she, her ex-boyfriend, and her new girlfriend walk into the bank to deposit cash from a fundraiser and become the hostages of two armed men. Nora's past and present come crashing down all around her as she and her friends figure out how to end the standoff or escape. But are there some things you can never escape?
Is it any good?
This suspense-filled story will keep readers on the edge of their seats with its effective blending of past and present. The excitement in The Girls I've Been kicks in right from start and is cleverly balanced with piecing together the mystery of Nora's past. There's even a nice balance of humor and a little bit of romance woven in, too. Nora's a believable narrator even though she's hard to get to know, but learning about her past in bits and pieces is an effective way of showing the distance she's always had to keep from people in her own life. When she finally starts to really come into her own, and find within herself the power and courage to be her own person, readers will come to understand and maybe even admire her. Near the end, the pacing stutters a bit, so there's no real surprise or shock there. But it does come to a satisfying and effective end. Violence, including child abuse, and strong language make it best for teens and up.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in The Girls I've Been. Is it too much? Is it realistic? Does it make a difference if it is?
How much strong language is OK in books? Is it different for movies, TV, videos, etc.? Why, or why not?
Stories with lots of suspense and excitement are always popular. Why do we like them so much? What are some of your favorites?
- Author: Tess Sharpe
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
- Publication date: January 26, 2021
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 26, 2021
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