The Girl I Used To Be: A gripping thriller

The Girl I Used To Be by Mary Torjussen is a well-paced, gripping thriller with likeable characters and strong use of family dynamics. I was pleasantly surprised by this book after its slow start, and the ending really does pack a punch. There are multiple twists, all of which make sense and connect the pieces of the puzzle in the reader’s mind seamlessly. The Girl I Used To Be by Mary Torjussen is out now from Headline publishing.

The Story
The Girl I Used To Be by Mary Torjussen follows the life of Gemma, a woman who owns and runs her own estate agents, while her husband looks after her son at home. When Gemma meets a work client at an event far from home, things take an intriguing turn which leads her down a dark path into the past which has haunted her for years. As she realises that she cannot trust anybody or turn to anybody about the situation in which she finds herself, she feels more alone than ever. Eventually, she uncovers a secret which will lead her down a thrilling path towards vengeance.

What I liked…
Torjussen writes female characters very well. She does not say that Gemma’s life is perfect because she is the bread winner with a stay-at-home husband, nor does she condemn this lifestyle. She picks through Gemma’s brain to figure out where her pride lies and how she could be happier if there was a more even split of working and taking care of their son. I respected this element of the story, as Gemma is therefore neither painted as a victim or villain, but merely a human trying to make things work. As well as this, Rachel, Caitlin, Lucy and Sophie are all fun female characters who you can enjoy reading about, yet also sympathise with their difficulties as well. Rachel, who’s past is referenced a few times, comes across as guarded and strong.
I also thought that the plot of the story was pretty damn good. I enjoyed the writing style and the ways that Torjussen wove in the events of Gemma’s home and working life, rather than having her running all over the place and neglecting her day to day responsibilities as many characters do in similar novels. I thought that the twists were arranged perfectly, as the first twist sets up the second one, while giving the reader enough time to get on board with the first and for the second to make sense. There were no plot holes that I spotted, and it made for enjoyable reading.

What I didn’t like…
The only two things I didn’t enjoy about this book was the slow start and the portrayal of the male characters. The novel did start slowly, and I only got into it properly by around 20%, which means that some people would probably give up on the story earlier on. This could be solved by taking out a lot of Gemma’s earlier worrying and focusing more on the familial relationships and building them to appear stronger earlier on. Now, David’s character was accurately portrayed. However, I felt that Joe got a pretty bad portrayal and he could have been shown as more sympathetic and supportive of her business. Because of the few men in this book, I would have preferred him to have represented a better kind of man.

Overall, I mostly enjoyed this book once I got past the slow start. It was gripping and tense; it really got me with the twists and stayed consistently intriguing. I would recommend this book to thriller lovers and people who enjoy a good crime story told from a different perspective. Thank you Headline and NetGalley for the advance e-copy in exchange for an honest review. 4.5*

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