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The Girl She Was Before

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A crime thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming! Powerful, packed full of gruelling details that will linger with you long after the book has finished. Nat lives a picture-perfect life, but it wasn’t always this way. A victim of horrific bullying when she was a teenager, Nat will do anything to keep distance between the girl she was before and the woman she is n A crime thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming! Powerful, packed full of gruelling details that will linger with you long after the book has finished. Nat lives a picture-perfect life, but it wasn’t always this way. A victim of horrific bullying when she was a teenager, Nat will do anything to keep distance between the girl she was before and the woman she is now. But when her best friend is murdered and people begin to point their finger at her, Nat’s new life quickly unravels. To Nat, it’s no surprise the crime happened at the same time as the return of her biggest tormentor, Chrissy Summers. A woman with a violent streak who destroyed lives when she was younger and isn’t afraid to do it again. Face to face with the past she so firmly keeps behind her, Nat’s sanity wavers as her determination to reveal Chrissy as the monster she knows her as rises to dangerous heights. The question is, can Nat prove Chrissy is a killer, or will Chrissy get to Nat and her family before she has the chance?


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A crime thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming! Powerful, packed full of gruelling details that will linger with you long after the book has finished. Nat lives a picture-perfect life, but it wasn’t always this way. A victim of horrific bullying when she was a teenager, Nat will do anything to keep distance between the girl she was before and the woman she is n A crime thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming! Powerful, packed full of gruelling details that will linger with you long after the book has finished. Nat lives a picture-perfect life, but it wasn’t always this way. A victim of horrific bullying when she was a teenager, Nat will do anything to keep distance between the girl she was before and the woman she is now. But when her best friend is murdered and people begin to point their finger at her, Nat’s new life quickly unravels. To Nat, it’s no surprise the crime happened at the same time as the return of her biggest tormentor, Chrissy Summers. A woman with a violent streak who destroyed lives when she was younger and isn’t afraid to do it again. Face to face with the past she so firmly keeps behind her, Nat’s sanity wavers as her determination to reveal Chrissy as the monster she knows her as rises to dangerous heights. The question is, can Nat prove Chrissy is a killer, or will Chrissy get to Nat and her family before she has the chance?

30 review for The Girl She Was Before

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    THE GIRL SHE WAS BEFORE is a well written debut thriller by Jess Kitching. This was an absolutely amazing debut! I loved it! I was gripped from the beginning until the end. What added depth to this novel was the short chapters alternating between the “THEN” and the “NOW”. Nat had been a victim of horrific bullying when she was a teenager living in Coral Bay…the girls at the back of the bus laughing at her…calling her “Fish Sticks”. But she doesn’t respond and made a vow to herself years ago-to nev THE GIRL SHE WAS BEFORE is a well written debut thriller by Jess Kitching. This was an absolutely amazing debut! I loved it! I was gripped from the beginning until the end. What added depth to this novel was the short chapters alternating between the “THEN” and the “NOW”. Nat had been a victim of horrific bullying when she was a teenager living in Coral Bay…the girls at the back of the bus laughing at her…calling her “Fish Sticks”. But she doesn’t respond and made a vow to herself years ago-to never respond to that name. She tries to ignore their cruel jokes. Her family is poor and they don’t even have money for laundry powder to wash her clothes. Nat moves away from Coral Bay as soon as she could to the city but returns three years later, falling out of love with the city life. Now Nat will do anything to keep distance between the girl she was before and the woman she is now. Nat now lives the perfect life, married to Lucas Redding, a PE teacher, with a nine- month-old daughter, Esme. Nat’s time is busy running a popular social media page, painting full-time and looking after her newborn baby. Lucas comes home from work and tells his wife that two of Nat’s best friends, Bree and Hallie had been in a terrific car accident and Hallie had died and Bree was in a coma. When people begin to point their finger at her, Nat's new life quickly unravels. The police think that someone purposely forced Hallie to drive off the road! But this crime happened at the same time as the return of her biggest tormentor, Chrissy Summers. A woman with a violent streak who destroyed lives when she was younger and isn't afraid to do it again. Seeing Chrissy again brought back a flood of bad memories. Nat is determined to reveal Chrissy as the monster she knows her as…but can Nat prove Chrissy is a killer before Chrissy gets to her? THE GIRL SHE WAS BEFORE is a well-written novel addictive read that deals with the issue of bullying and its consequences. It is full of twists and turns and I didn’t see the huge twist at the end coming! Highly recommended! Many thanks to the author and The Book Club Reviewer Request Group (FB) for my digital copy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    First of all, congratulations Jess Kitching on an incredible debut novel. I was thrilled when you asked me to read an advanced copy of The Girl She was Before. Easily a 5 star read for me and I read a lot of thrillers. The characters where so well written, they felt like real people going through real experiences. Well done, and I look forward to what you have for us next already. Right, thriller lovers, you need this book. Trust me. Who needs sleep when you have this amazing book, full of charac First of all, congratulations Jess Kitching on an incredible debut novel. I was thrilled when you asked me to read an advanced copy of The Girl She was Before. Easily a 5 star read for me and I read a lot of thrillers. The characters where so well written, they felt like real people going through real experiences. Well done, and I look forward to what you have for us next already. Right, thriller lovers, you need this book. Trust me. Who needs sleep when you have this amazing book, full of characters that you will love to hate, and others that you will really feel for. Lie our main character Nat. At school she was the victim of bullying and her biggest persecutor was Chrissy Summers - the ultimate mean girl. Things have changed a lot since then and Nat is happy. She is married with a beautiful daughter and is a successful social media influencer. But then Chrissy returns to town and all those old feelings return. When her best friend is murdered she immediately points the finger at her former tormentor but the police have their eyes on Nat. Can she prove her innocence and keep her sanity. See - doesn't that make you want to read it? Who needs sleep when you have that storyline, I certainly didn't. The ending was so clever and absolutely knocked me for six. I can't recommend this book to you more Released on October 31st, grab this as soon as you can. Thanks to Jess and Kingsley Publishing for my advanced copy of this book to read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    Oh my goodness, I absolutely LOVED this book! I haven't been this absorbed in a story for ages. It completely consumed me. Heart and soul. The Girl She Was Before is by far the best book I've read this year! As it is to do with bullying and manipulation, it triggered me on so many levels throughout the story. I couldn't get enough of it, yet, at the same time, I was terrified to continue in case the outcome broke me. As for the ending... Wow! I really didn't see that coming!!! This is an incredibl Oh my goodness, I absolutely LOVED this book! I haven't been this absorbed in a story for ages. It completely consumed me. Heart and soul. The Girl She Was Before is by far the best book I've read this year! As it is to do with bullying and manipulation, it triggered me on so many levels throughout the story. I couldn't get enough of it, yet, at the same time, I was terrified to continue in case the outcome broke me. As for the ending... Wow! I really didn't see that coming!!! This is an incredibly gripping psychological crime thriller that is almost impossible to put down, and one I think those who have either been bullied at school, or bullied and manipulated in adulthood will be able to relate to. Just be prepared for it to get right into your soul, reminding you of those very real fears you felt while being bullied in the past. Here's a quote from the book that really makes you think about the damage and lifelong impact bullying does to a person. Thirty years on, my heart still races when I pass one of my school bullies in the street. "When you bully someone, you bully them for life." I'm so happy I read this book, and will be highly recommending it to others. I didn't want it to end.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    ”When you bully someone, you bully them for life.” This was an absolutely INCREDIBLE debut novel by Jess Kitching! I heard so many good things about this so I had to pick it up and it did not disappoint! The writing style was spot on and the characters were so well written and complex and the story gripped my attention from start to finish. This psychological thriller really shows how bullying never leaves you and it shows how incredibly damaging it can be. I found parts of this book really trigge ”When you bully someone, you bully them for life.” This was an absolutely INCREDIBLE debut novel by Jess Kitching! I heard so many good things about this so I had to pick it up and it did not disappoint! The writing style was spot on and the characters were so well written and complex and the story gripped my attention from start to finish. This psychological thriller really shows how bullying never leaves you and it shows how incredibly damaging it can be. I found parts of this book really triggering because of my experience, but it was a really accurate and raw depiction of how it really feels to be bullied and the scars it leaves. I really enjoyed that the chapters flipped between the present and past and we got a really detailed view of the bullying the girl experienced, and also her life in the present day. This was a gripping, unputdownable read and I can’t wait to read more from Jess Kitching! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda Strong

    Natalie was horribly bullied when she was in high school. Today she's a well-known influencer ... has a great husband ... a baby she adores. Surprisingly, she's now friends with two of those who used to bully her. She tells herself that she's moved on ... that she's forgiven them. But has she? When her best friend dies in a car accident, along with another friend, it is determined they were intentionally run off the road. is it a coincidence that her biggest tormentor has returned .... a woman with Natalie was horribly bullied when she was in high school. Today she's a well-known influencer ... has a great husband ... a baby she adores. Surprisingly, she's now friends with two of those who used to bully her. She tells herself that she's moved on ... that she's forgiven them. But has she? When her best friend dies in a car accident, along with another friend, it is determined they were intentionally run off the road. is it a coincidence that her biggest tormentor has returned .... a woman with a violent streak who destroyed lives when she was younger and isn't afraid to do it again. This is a riveting look at not only malicious bullying, but friendships, as well. The book is told by the bullied girl, in great detail, in flashbacks. Back and forth from past to present, from intimidation to acceptance. Be warned ... not everything is as it seems. Several red herrings, along with a riveting twist at the conclusion will keep the reader glued to each and every page. Many thanks to the author for the digital copy of this psychological thriller. Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea | thrillerbookbabe

    Thank you so much to Kingsley Book and Jess Kitching for my copy of this book. The Girl She Was Before is about Nat, the girl with the perfect life. She wasn’t always perfect though, and was terrorized as a teenager. And now that her best friend was murdered, people think that Nat was involved. Nat knows that it can’t be a coincidence that her friend was killed right when her tourmenter returned to the area. Now, Nat needs to prove that she isn’t the killer, and she also wants to prove that Chri Thank you so much to Kingsley Book and Jess Kitching for my copy of this book. The Girl She Was Before is about Nat, the girl with the perfect life. She wasn’t always perfect though, and was terrorized as a teenager. And now that her best friend was murdered, people think that Nat was involved. Nat knows that it can’t be a coincidence that her friend was killed right when her tourmenter returned to the area. Now, Nat needs to prove that she isn’t the killer, and she also wants to prove that Chrissy is, and get justice once and for all. Thoughts: This book is a psychological thriller that surrounds bullies and bullying. The chapters alternating between the past and the present gave the reader a good idea of Nat’s childhood and what she endured, and who she is today. This book is also about friendship and the lasting impact both bullies and friends can have on someone. This was a fast moving plot with short and engaging chapters. It is full of twists and suspense that drew me into the story. It felt like a drama where you didn’t know who to trust and who did what. I was surprised to hear this is a debut because it was so well written and engaging. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a fast-paced book with lots of fun twists. 4.5 stars for me!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stina

    ★★★★ 4.5 stars What an absolutely brilliant debut! I loved almost everything about it - the fast pace, the suspense, the twists, the second guessing. I was completely absorbed in the story from the very beginning and read it in almost one sitting. The chapters were relatively short and snappy - just the way I like them - and the alternating between THEN and NOW added another dimension to the story that left us wondering who was doing what and why. Everything was perfectly executed...and then we c ★★★★ 4.5 stars What an absolutely brilliant debut! I loved almost everything about it - the fast pace, the suspense, the twists, the second guessing. I was completely absorbed in the story from the very beginning and read it in almost one sitting. The chapters were relatively short and snappy - just the way I like them - and the alternating between THEN and NOW added another dimension to the story that left us wondering who was doing what and why. Everything was perfectly executed...and then we came to the conclusion. All the tension, all the build up, it was so palpable you could feel it even taste it...and then the shock Epilogue gave us that unexpected ending. I was like...what did I just read? Nat lives a perfect life in Coral Bay with her loving husband Lucas and baby daughter Esme. She has a beautiful home and is an online social media influencer with an image she presents to the world as being perfect but behind her smile are the hidden scars from the emotional torment she suffered at the hands of horrific bullying as a teenager. She left Coral Bay as soon as she possibly could but returned some years later, almost unrecognisable as the girl she'd once been. Leaving all that hurt behind her, Nat returned to Coral Bay and found herself befriending the very people who bullied her at school...and they become best friends. All of them, except for one. Chrissy Summers - the worst of them all. So imagine her surprise when out running one morning she happens across the not so trim but still stylishly beautiful Chrissy in active wear a tad too tight. At first Chrissy doesn't recognise her, but then it dawns and the evil glint returns behind that smirk she knew so well. With a few well placed taunts, Chrissy leaves Nat standing speechless with the realisation the woman hasn't changed at all. But Nat is the only one to see that. Because as soon as the others know Chrissy is back in town they all flock to her side as if they had never left. And Nat is left on the outer once again while Chrissy muscles her way back in. Of course, everyone is blind to what Chrissy is doing except Nat. But when she tries to confide in Lucas about it he dismisses her concerns as ludicrous, naturally siding with Chrissy. Despite having turned her life around from the self-conscious 15 year old she used to be, self-doubt creeps in and invades every aspect of her life. She becomes irrational, often appearing delusional, wondering if she is good enough wife, mother and friend as the painful memories she worked so hard at pushing down return with a vengeance. Even her career as an influencer is being affected as she begins to lose followers when an anonymous account pops up, bad-mouthing her and outing her as a fake. And in the midst of her life falling apart, her best friend is killed with another in a coma and soon it becomes clear (to her) that someone is picking them off one by one. But how does she fit in? While her friends were bullies, Nat never was. She was one of their victims. Then suddenly she remembers Chrissy. Why has she come back to town now? She left under a cloud years ago so why is she back? Has she some unfinished business with those who ditched her in her hour of need? And is she setting her biggest adversary up to take the fall for her deeds? But no matter how many times Nat says it, no matter how loud she yells it - no one listens to her. She has lost all credibility - who will believe her now? And those noises she hears in the night...she is sure someone is out there, but are they really? No one else can see or hear them. And she's the only one drawing attention to herself... But she is sure someone is setting her up, even if no one else believes her. Can Nat get to the truth before it's too late? Or is she really as crazy as everyone says? Moving between the past and the present seamlessly, THE GIRL SHE WAS BEFORE is a well-written tale of the effects that bullying can have on those who suffered it later in life. It's not just a case of "they were just kids". Unless one has been on the receiving end of such cruel torment, one cannot really understand the lasting effects it really has someone. It destroys a person's self-esteem, their self-worth and confidence. While I never suffered the extreme torments as the girl in the THEN chapters describes, it was still traumatic at the time and yes, I believe it has a lasting influence on the person you become. The THEN chapters were incredibly difficult to read at times as you wonder how people could be so cruel...but teenagers can. And girls are the worst. Horrified at the relentless bullying, I was pulled into the plot instantly as I cheered the poor girl on in the hope she would eventually overcome the bullies. The question constantly at the forefront of my mind as to her identity. At first I thought it was Nat as she is the main character in the present chapters, but then I started to think about other possibilities. Whoever she was, I knew she was coming with a vengeance. And so I put my thinking cap on and began my process of elimination as to the possible suspects. I narrowed it down until finally I was left with my obvious choice...maybe not yours...but it made perfect sense to me, even if I had yet to work out why. THE GIRL SHE WAS BEFORE is filled with twists and suspense for one action-packed thrill ride that hoodwinks you at the last possible moment. I really thought the outcome would be different and I admit to being slightly disappointed at the ending we were given. Still it was a major twist that is unexpected that is sure to delight many readers to steer us away from any predictability. Maybe something a little more unsettling to end on would have been a little more satisfying despite my preference for a different outcome altogether. Either way, it's a shocking twist. THE GIRL SHE WAS BEFORE is such an addictive read that swept me away in its cleverly conceived plot that is sometimes more than a little disturbing. I cannot believe that this is a debut, it is that good. I can't wait to see what Jess Kitching comes up with next! Perfect for fans of twisted psychological and disturbing domestic thrillers. I would like to thank #JessKitching, #KingsleyPublishers and #RachelsRandomResources for an ARC of #TheGirlSheWasBefore in exchange for an honest review. This review appears on my blog at https://stinathebookaholic.blogspot.com/.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    This one drew me in right away and had a high level of tension throughout. I did not know who to trust and felt like I needed a bowl of popcorn at the ready as the secrets unfolded. There were some serious topics running through this one and I loved the way the author dealt with those. Another fabulous crime fiction with a twist I really did not see coming. 4.5*

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mandie (allbookedout_with_mj)

    If you are looking for your next five star ⭐ thriller read, look no further than Jess Kitching's The Girl She Was Before! What an absolute brilliant debut novel! I loved everything about it! A fast-paced, suspense filled, quality piece of writing! Jess has a way of writing with description and detail that absorbs you right in like these things are literally happening right in front of you. Perfectly executed twists and turns that will later have you saying ohhh right !! It all makes sense in the If you are looking for your next five star ⭐ thriller read, look no further than Jess Kitching's The Girl She Was Before! What an absolute brilliant debut novel! I loved everything about it! A fast-paced, suspense filled, quality piece of writing! Jess has a way of writing with description and detail that absorbs you right in like these things are literally happening right in front of you. Perfectly executed twists and turns that will later have you saying ohhh right !! It all makes sense in the end and ohhh that ending!!! No spoilers here but 🤯 You've got no choice but to read it for yourself to find out just how amazing this one is! 😍 With a debut this good, I am really looking forward to what Jess has in store for us next! 💗 Thank you to @jesskitchingwrites and @kingsleypublishers for the advanced review copy! P.s. I've actually pre-ordered a physical copy because I love to have physical copies of my five star reads! 😃

  10. 5 out of 5

    Namita

    The Girl She Was Before is a well written debut novel by Jess Kitching with skillfully drawn characters and a tightly woven plot filled with twists and turns that left me riveted to each and every page . The conclusion is explosive and unexpected which made it a gripping ,addictive read . Highly recommend it ! I would like to thank the TBC Reviewers request group & the author for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and fair review

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mellisa

    Nat has a picture perfect life, a perfect family and is happy. She wasn't always this way, as a teenager she was a victim of horrific bullying. Each day Nat clutches on to her perfect life, terrified it will change. And then it does. Her biggest tormentor, Chrissy, returns. Her best friend is murdered, and people are pointing fingers at her. Nat's life is unravelling, and she's left fighting to protect her family... A cat and mouse game that brings twists you'll never expect. I'm devastated to ha Nat has a picture perfect life, a perfect family and is happy. She wasn't always this way, as a teenager she was a victim of horrific bullying. Each day Nat clutches on to her perfect life, terrified it will change. And then it does. Her biggest tormentor, Chrissy, returns. Her best friend is murdered, and people are pointing fingers at her. Nat's life is unravelling, and she's left fighting to protect her family... A cat and mouse game that brings twists you'll never expect. I'm devastated to have finished, shocked at the ending. I didn't see it coming, I'm speechless and just so unsure how I feel. I built up these emotions towards characters, and those emotions came crashing out at the ending. An absolutely fantastic book, I would recommend this over and over! Short chapters, brutal story that is more realistic than not with the bullying - it's a gripping read! It'll make you feel so many emotions, have you gasping at the ending, shrieking at the book. It's just that good.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Somby

    4.5 ⭐️ Well written and good thriller! I saw the twist early, but it was a good one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ellie at BookBucket

    https://book-bucket.com/2021/10/02/th... First up, I am amazed that this is a debut novel as it is so well written. The constant aura of unease and suspense held my attention right to the end and I stayed up late to finish it. The downward spiral that Nat falls into is very sad to read, as only the reader knows and understands how damaged and fragile the bullying has left her. The bullying itself as well as people's attitudes to it come across as very authentic too. I liked the use of dual time l https://book-bucket.com/2021/10/02/th... First up, I am amazed that this is a debut novel as it is so well written. The constant aura of unease and suspense held my attention right to the end and I stayed up late to finish it. The downward spiral that Nat falls into is very sad to read, as only the reader knows and understands how damaged and fragile the bullying has left her. The bullying itself as well as people's attitudes to it come across as very authentic too. I liked the use of dual time lines. The thing I loved the most was the way the characters evolved throughout the story and I'd love to expand on that at length because it was done so cleverly, but I can't without risking spoilers. You'll just have to read it for yourself to see what I mean. You won't be disappointed!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Wendy C

    When reading a new authors debut novel it invites nerves, apprehension and a sense of hope. When you then finish said novel in a day, you can pretty much say it’s a winner as you realise it was as good as some of the seasoned authors out there that you already love. I know I’ve found a talented writer and one I’ll continue to follow and read all future books. The Girl She Was Before was so well written, including all elements I love from a thriller. With sensitive themes that are so expertly wri When reading a new authors debut novel it invites nerves, apprehension and a sense of hope. When you then finish said novel in a day, you can pretty much say it’s a winner as you realise it was as good as some of the seasoned authors out there that you already love. I know I’ve found a talented writer and one I’ll continue to follow and read all future books. The Girl She Was Before was so well written, including all elements I love from a thriller. With sensitive themes that are so expertly written, and I wondered if the author has written from first hand experience due to the accurately written scenes that induced emotions that would be evident, from having been bullied. It was an engrossing read, with some great red herrings. Twist after twist and fabulous foreshadowing. I can say that Jess Kitching is an author to watch and can’t wait to read her next book!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    Galloping Donkeys! 😳😯🤯 What the fluff?! What did I just read?! Holy bologna! 😳 Natalie has it all - everything she ever wanted and is easily the "ugly duckling into a swan" from her teenage years. She's now the top of the crop of the high school girl bullies in Coral Bay. But then someone starts picking them off and killing them one by one. Who from the past could want them to pay and die? Oh you think you may know, but you have NO idea! My jaw is literally still hanging! Absolutely unreal! I nev Galloping Donkeys! 😳😯🤯 What the fluff?! What did I just read?! Holy bologna! 😳 Natalie has it all - everything she ever wanted and is easily the "ugly duckling into a swan" from her teenage years. She's now the top of the crop of the high school girl bullies in Coral Bay. But then someone starts picking them off and killing them one by one. Who from the past could want them to pay and die? Oh you think you may know, but you have NO idea! My jaw is literally still hanging! Absolutely unreal! I never could have imagined! I thought I knew but no! No way! I give this 4.5 / 5 snowflakes! ❄️

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aisha Rowbottom-Isaacs

    I'm so conflicted. I don't know how I feel about this book. I'll say this, its wonderfully written. The writer definitely has some writing chops, I'll give her props for that. The story line was also compelling, a scintillating murder mystery that kept you on your toes. The action immediately started, not leaving the reader grasping at straws wondering when it was all going to come full circle, and then ended with a shock factor so satisfying, that even I, who thought I had it all figured out, co I'm so conflicted. I don't know how I feel about this book. I'll say this, its wonderfully written. The writer definitely has some writing chops, I'll give her props for that. The story line was also compelling, a scintillating murder mystery that kept you on your toes. The action immediately started, not leaving the reader grasping at straws wondering when it was all going to come full circle, and then ended with a shock factor so satisfying, that even I, who thought I had it all figured out, couldn't stop my jaw from dropping. But I still found myself a tad bit underwhelmed. I did not like the characters in this book. I hated every single one of them. And I don't use the word 'hate' lightly. The protagonist, Nat, just kept digging herself into a hole, the detectives grated on my nerves with their judgement and their obvious desire to pin the murders on Nat, regardless of evidence pointing elsewhere, Nat's friends were horrible and I absolutely wanted to punch her husband in the face every time he had a scene. He was probably the worst of the lot. I don't know, if your partner seems to be having a hard time and is spiralling after two of her friends are murdered and then add that to her childhood bully returning and the police suspecting her of murder, you'd think the obvious move would be to support her. If her accusations are unfounded only based on your holier than thou opinions, than you should probably keep them to yourself and be there for your wife. This guy just failed in all aspects of being a supportive partner. I feel like if there was even one redeeming character I wouldn't be feeling so conflicted. Even though I loved the premise of this book and that shock factor in the end really thrilled me, because I did not see that coming, it was hard to read the book because of how terrible all these characters were. And it makes it even more frustrating because there wasn't an ounce of character development between the lot of them. This is a true testament to how a book needs all of the boxes ticked, for it to be truly considered a job well done.  That said, even though I was frustrated with the characters and just wanted someone, anyone to inflict the worst kind of violence on Lucas (the husband), the book wasn't half bad. Well written, somewhat entertaining but I think its that shocking ending that really redeemed this book for me. I was all set to give it 2 stars because I hated the characters and I hated Nat's complaining and her penance for digging herself into a hole and the superficiality of it all and the lack of personal growth in all the characters, they were just all so shitty - but that plot twist ending really got me.  Plus, it had a powerful message. Bullying is such a violent, visceral act even if the act isn't inflicting physical harm. It isn't something that should be overlooked (Lucas), it should definitely not be undermined (Lucas) and the long-term effects of it on the victim of bullying should not be underestimated (Lucas!). This book is a clear example of how you probably shouldn't be an asshole because else you'll get killed. Let that be a lesson to us all.  I recommend this book if you enjoy slow burn murder mysteries with a jaw dropping plot twist. 

  17. 4 out of 5

    Justine Sharp

    A few months ago an ex-colleague told me her friend was releasing her first book and that it was available on pre-order. Looking to support them I quickly clicked but didn't know what to expect. In the meantime I was offered the opportunity to read it ahead of the publishing date. All I can say is WOW - I loved this book so much that I read it in two days. So many characters who could have 'dunnit' but it had me questioning until the end. I loved the main character and had so much sympathy for h A few months ago an ex-colleague told me her friend was releasing her first book and that it was available on pre-order. Looking to support them I quickly clicked but didn't know what to expect. In the meantime I was offered the opportunity to read it ahead of the publishing date. All I can say is WOW - I loved this book so much that I read it in two days. So many characters who could have 'dunnit' but it had me questioning until the end. I loved the main character and had so much sympathy for her with everything she was going through. Great book and would highly recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charlie R

    I loved everything about this book. I was hooked from the beginning! I found myself racing to the end but also never wanting it to end. It is full of twists and turns and I certainly didn’t see the huge twist at the end coming!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Taryn Leigh

    I was fortunate to get a pre-release copy for me to comment on by my Publisher, Kingsley Publishers, and I was blown away. Not only did I put aside the need for sleep to finish reading the book, but I was also bursting at the seems to tell someone about what I had read. Hence my husband, my confidant for all my own book plots, had to sit through me retelling him the story, and all the plot twists from start to finish. I must have done a pretty good job of retelling it, as he himself engaged me in I was fortunate to get a pre-release copy for me to comment on by my Publisher, Kingsley Publishers, and I was blown away. Not only did I put aside the need for sleep to finish reading the book, but I was also bursting at the seems to tell someone about what I had read. Hence my husband, my confidant for all my own book plots, had to sit through me retelling him the story, and all the plot twists from start to finish. I must have done a pretty good job of retelling it, as he himself engaged me in a full conversation about the ending. So what was so great about this book? Well I will try to describe it without giving away the storyline: It had several underlying theme’s, that were written in such thought provoking ways. Those of bullying; social media effects on ones psychology and reality; psychological instability; family relationships and the need to be accepted in society. There was a thought provoking plot, with several interesting characters that each had their own story that intertwined with the main plot. Several plot twists to shock and delight you. Suspense in trying to calculate who the killer actually was, I had so many theories, and none were correct. An ending that will leave you gobsmacked, it still plays on my mind! Its one of those novels where I read it and couldn’t believe it was a debut novel, but more so I read it and couldn’t believe this was solely from someone’s imagination. I actually went to check Jess out on social media to make sure she wasn’t anything like some of the characters she described, and I’m pleased to say she isn’t lol, she is the kindness human being out there!! I’m a fan, needless to say, and I will read her next novel without even bothering to check the blurb, because her writing style, and plot layout is that good! This is a definite MUST READ from me, I can’t stress it enough, oh and this comes from someone who never liked thrillers! Yes this is a crime thriller, but its so intellectually done, that there are no creepy, spook-you-out bits, it’s just a mind blowing, exceptional book you will love, irrespective of your favourite genre.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Nat now lives a picture perfect life - an artist, an instagram influencer, she has a husband, a baby and staff. She's also back living in the same place she grew up, friends with some of the girls at school who bullied and tormented her when they were younger, seemingly living the perfect life. Until members of her friend group start to die, Chrissy Summers returns to town, and blame for the deaths increasingly starts to focus on her. Now I will admit that Nat and all of her friends were mightily Nat now lives a picture perfect life - an artist, an instagram influencer, she has a husband, a baby and staff. She's also back living in the same place she grew up, friends with some of the girls at school who bullied and tormented her when they were younger, seemingly living the perfect life. Until members of her friend group start to die, Chrissy Summers returns to town, and blame for the deaths increasingly starts to focus on her. Now I will admit that Nat and all of her friends were mightily annoying to this reader. But then I don't get Instagram influencing, I don't get what seems to have happened to feminism these days, and I'm old. All the way through THE GIRL SHE WAS BEFORE I kept thinking "I'm too old for all this chatty, selfie taking, loud exclaiming girly stuff". Until it slowly began to dawn on me that there was something else going on here - sure there were all these breathless, idiotic women running around, but the bullying that Nat endured at school - with some throwback chapters to outline some of the worst of the goings on - has to have had some effect hasn't it? And how did she end up married to the most popular boy in school, and this life seems to be everything they ever wanted, but why are her friends dying, and what is going on in that perfect little family unit, with their live-in childcare, and her art, and his teaching, and their perfect house, and the return of Chrissy Summers - the tormentor in chief from all those years ago? If, like me, you're thinking that this book isn't for you, these people are not your tribe, and who really cares what's going on here, I'd politely suggest you stick with it. When they talk about thrillers that twist and turn, they mean books like this one. When they say you really shouldn't believe everything you're reading, they mean books like this one, and when everything turns itself on its head, it's quite the surprise. Maybe not what happens, but good grief, what now? That's what I came away from THE GIRL SHE WAS BEFORE thinking the most. What on earth could happen next. https://www.austcrimefiction.org/revi...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nisha Joshi

    Nat has a perfect life. She has a perfect little family, a supportive nanny, and a huge followership on social media. She is the queen of the little village she lives in. She is popular among her friends and employee. However, she has a dark secret. She has been bullied mercilessly while in school. She cannot forget the scars of the bullying. And when she sees her bully, Chrissy Summers, back in town, she cannot help the bad memories that come with her. When bad things begin to happen, she immed Nat has a perfect life. She has a perfect little family, a supportive nanny, and a huge followership on social media. She is the queen of the little village she lives in. She is popular among her friends and employee. However, she has a dark secret. She has been bullied mercilessly while in school. She cannot forget the scars of the bullying. And when she sees her bully, Chrissy Summers, back in town, she cannot help the bad memories that come with her. When bad things begin to happen, she immediately starts associating Chrissy with everything bad. But why won't anyone believe her? I loved the story and the tight narration. The characters are well-sketched out. I could empathize with Nat and all her struggles. There were many times when I wanted to tell the others to "BELIEVE HER!" For a debut author, this book was flawless. I will look forward to more from Jess Kitching. 4 stars.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie Evans

    The Girl She Was Before is an absolutely brilliant book! I'm not the quickest reader but I was so engrossed in the story that I couldn't put it down and it only took me a few days to read. I just HAD to know how it ended! The plot had twists and turns all throughout, and as somebody who rarely who gets surprised by a book, this well written thriller kept me guessing right until the very end. Jess Kitching has created a piece that is intriguing, imaginative, engrossing, tense and fast paced, whic The Girl She Was Before is an absolutely brilliant book! I'm not the quickest reader but I was so engrossed in the story that I couldn't put it down and it only took me a few days to read. I just HAD to know how it ended! The plot had twists and turns all throughout, and as somebody who rarely who gets surprised by a book, this well written thriller kept me guessing right until the very end. Jess Kitching has created a piece that is intriguing, imaginative, engrossing, tense and fast paced, which leaves you on the edge of your seat. I honestly cannot wait to be able to sit down with other readers to discuss this incredible novel as I was blown away with the quality of the writing. I feel very lucky I was able to receive an advance copy. This is something that everybody should read, and I hope the next instalment from Jess Kitching isn’t too far away.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lin

    This was a well-written thriller that is very hard to put down. A very impressive debut novel from this author. Personally, though, I found it left me feeling rather uncomfortable. It's not a very positive view of the world as a whole, and the characters, while compelling, really were not very likeable. However, the plot itself was strong, and well worth a read, with great twists and turns along the way. Just beware that there are some vivid descriptions of bullying in places that I found hard to This was a well-written thriller that is very hard to put down. A very impressive debut novel from this author. Personally, though, I found it left me feeling rather uncomfortable. It's not a very positive view of the world as a whole, and the characters, while compelling, really were not very likeable. However, the plot itself was strong, and well worth a read, with great twists and turns along the way. Just beware that there are some vivid descriptions of bullying in places that I found hard to read. It's a book that will probably stay with me for a long time, and it's a strong reminder that bullies do lasting damage, and that onlookers can make a big difference in any bullying situation, in either direction.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Gavin

    A tragic story of bullying and the rise and fall of forgiveness and murder and what truly lies beneath...madness maybe?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Becker

    I’ll give this 3.5 stars. I literally hated every single character in this book lol. I know that bullying is wrong and affects people differently but sheesh. It was a fast read but I would have liked it more if there was at least ONE character that I could like. I figured out the twist pretty early on.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tanya - Read by the Librarian

    Book 71 ~ October 2021 A Crime Thriller mixed with psychological thrill and contemporary issues. A 'who done it?' Think Pretty Little Liars mixed with Mean Girls. This needs a trigger warning as the central theme throughout is bullying. We see the impact bullying has not just when the bullying is happening but the long lasting effects. You will question how and why Nat could ever forgive those who bullied her letalone be friends with them. I did! You will question who is killing off the bitches Book 71 ~ October 2021 A Crime Thriller mixed with psychological thrill and contemporary issues. A 'who done it?' Think Pretty Little Liars mixed with Mean Girls. This needs a trigger warning as the central theme throughout is bullying. We see the impact bullying has not just when the bullying is happening but the long lasting effects. You will question how and why Nat could ever forgive those who bullied her letalone be friends with them. I did! You will question who is killing off the bitches one by one - is Nat doing the killing or will she be next? There are many twists and turns throughout that will keep you turning the pages. You will think Nat has gone completely crazy. A story about social media, being an influencer, the past, forgiveness and revenge. Lovers of thrillers will think the ending is epic. Loved it. Read it. Well done Jess. Release date: 31st October, 2021 Pre-order a copy! @kingsleypublishers Enjoy x

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tea Leaves and Reads

    The almost unanimous theme throughout reviews for this debut novel is… how on earth is it a debut?! It’s brilliant! And that’s exactly how I felt when reading it. Everything about this book is incredibly professional, warm and inviting. From the marketing, the publisher, the cover, the Author right up to the final edited version. Because of all of this, I can’t wait to see what Jess writes next! I really enjoy Crime Thrillers and it’s rare that I will deviate from my trusty usuals to try somethi The almost unanimous theme throughout reviews for this debut novel is… how on earth is it a debut?! It’s brilliant! And that’s exactly how I felt when reading it. Everything about this book is incredibly professional, warm and inviting. From the marketing, the publisher, the cover, the Author right up to the final edited version. Because of all of this, I can’t wait to see what Jess writes next! I really enjoy Crime Thrillers and it’s rare that I will deviate from my trusty usuals to try something new. I’m so pleased that I did though. This book is incredibly real. The setting, the characters, the storyline… it’s all possible and very much current. If that isn’t enough to grip your attention… the twists are! They really kept me on my toes and made this book very hard to put down. To add to a fantastic book, behind it is also a truly lovely Author. She will welcome you reaching out to her on social media to tell her which twists you worked out and which ones you didn’t! Jess is warm, approachable and so supportive of other Authors and businesses in general that it’s so lovely to speak with her. Huge thank you to Kingsley Publishers and Jess for sending me an advanced digital copy. I also had the pleasure of putting together bespoke book boxes featuring this title so I know that the book is stunning in paperback publication too!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    If there’s one thing that I like doing it’s discovering new authors. Jess Kitching is certainly a new author for me. I read the synopsis for ‘The Girl She Was Before’ and it certainly sounded like an intriguing read. I dived straight into the story and oh boy ‘The Girl She Was Before’ was one hell of a read, which I really enjoyed but more about that in a bit. I found that Nat was certainly an interesting character. At times my heart went out to her because she doesn’t have the easiest of childho If there’s one thing that I like doing it’s discovering new authors. Jess Kitching is certainly a new author for me. I read the synopsis for ‘The Girl She Was Before’ and it certainly sounded like an intriguing read. I dived straight into the story and oh boy ‘The Girl She Was Before’ was one hell of a read, which I really enjoyed but more about that in a bit. I found that Nat was certainly an interesting character. At times my heart went out to her because she doesn’t have the easiest of childhoods. She is bullied at school and has to endure some horrific treatment. The bullying is still affecting Nat mentally to this day, which I could totally understand. The Nat of the present day couldn’t be further from the Nat that we meet as a child. She has certainly turned her life around in more ways than one. She has even made friends with some of the bullies, which surprised me a bit. I couldn’t understand how she could be friends with kids who had tormented her so badly back in the day. Nat’s present life starts to unravel and things start happening, which she can’t explain. I have to be honest and say that it took me a little while to get into this book for reasons which I will explain shortly. Once I got into the story, that was it and I was away as the saying goes. I had my own theories as to what was going to happen and I had to keep reading to see if I was on the right track or if I had wandered down another path entirely. The pages turned increasingly quickly as I made my way through the story. I had to find out how the story panned out and what the final twist actually was. I became so wrapped up in the story that I lost all track of time and just how quickly I was getting through the book. I found ‘The Girl She Was Before’ to be an interesting read, which gripped me from start to finish and which certainly kept me guessing. I found ‘The Girl She Was Before’ difficult to read at times as the main theme appeared to be about bullying. I was bullied as a child from the age of 5 to the age of 16. Whilst I didn’t have my head flushed down the toilet, I was assaulted at school and left with what proved to be a life changing injury. The scars from the physical bullying healed but the emotional and mental scars still remain and affect me to this day, even now 26 years after I left school. I find it extremely difficult to accept a compliment and I tend to focus on the negative side of things, whilst ignoring the positive side. A lot of the feelings that Nat went through certainly struck a chord with me as I have a similar thinking pattern. At times a shiver went down my spine, because how Nat was feeling was exactly how I felt. ‘The Girl She Was Before’ is superbly written. Jess has a writing style that is easy to get along with and easy to get used to. She certainly knows how to grab your attention from the start and draws you into what proves to be a compelling story. Jess tackles a difficult subject in tackling bullying but she does it in a very compassionate and sensitive manner. Jess has clearly done a hell of a lot of research into bullying and the long term effects of it because the feelings and emotions that are described are spot on. I felt as though I was part of the story myself and that’s thanks to Jess’s very vivid and realistic storytelling. In short and overall I did enjoy reading ‘The Girl She Was Before’ and I would recommend it to other readers. I will certainly be reading more of Jess’s work in the future. The score on the Ginger Book Geek board is a very well deserved 4* out of 5*.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nicki

    This gripping tale of obsession, judgement, bullying and the modern day quest for perfection is voiced from the perspective of Natalie (Nat) who is a artist and social media influencer. With her lavish home, handsome husband Lucas, adorable baby daughter Esme and group of best friends Hallie, Melissa, Becca, Bree and Amira, Nat had done everything that was feasibly possible to become the complete opposite of the lonely, tormented young girl that she was in her school days. When she was younger N This gripping tale of obsession, judgement, bullying and the modern day quest for perfection is voiced from the perspective of Natalie (Nat) who is a artist and social media influencer. With her lavish home, handsome husband Lucas, adorable baby daughter Esme and group of best friends Hallie, Melissa, Becca, Bree and Amira, Nat had done everything that was feasibly possible to become the complete opposite of the lonely, tormented young girl that she was in her school days. When she was younger Nat was the victim of a relentless campaign of bullying and intimidation perpetrated rather ironically by the younger versions of the women that she now viewed as her best friends and their leader Chrissy Summers. Nat couldn't can get any respite from the bullying when she was at home due to her man who was her mother's boyfriend being also being a vicious bully. I felt a lot of empathy towards young Nat during the times that the story slipped back in time and she took us through the terror that she was subjected to on a daily basis through no fault of her own. I wasn't a victim of bullying myself but I wasn't one of the popular kids either, that said, I enjoyed school a lot more than I liked being at home. My home-life was nowhere near as bad a Nat's was but I can definitely contest to the fact that events from your past can have a everlasting and detrimental effect on your mental health in the future. Of course, when I was younger there was no such thing as mobile phones and social media so there was no way that the bullies could torment you once you were safely behind closed doors. Whereas nowadays it's not so easy to escape from people who are intent on tormenting and abusing the people they view as different and easy targets. The question was, why in the hell would Nat want to be best friends in the present day with the women who had made her life so unbearable in the past? Could she really trust them or were they just using her due to her local celebrity status?  Due to their past history, I could fully understand Nat's obsession with Chrissy and why she was so convinced that the orchestrator of her suffering in the past was behind the campaign to destroy her apparently perfect life in the present day. I would have liked to have felt a bit of sympathy for Nat as her life started to fall apart and she found herself being constantly interrogated by obnoxious and highly irritating Detective Baldur (A person who I don't think could have solved a crime even if the killer was stood right if front of him holding a bloodied knife in one hand and a large sign saying it was me in the other) But there was certain aspects to Nat's present day character that made her difficult to like and care about. Were Nat's suspicions about Chrissy correct or were they all pawns in the twisted games of a unknown enemy who was hiding in plain sight? I found it difficult to believe that this extremely well written, cleverly plotted, addictive story is this author's debut thriller. She hooks the reader in with a edge of your seat incident between two cars, holds you captivated and keeps you guessing as she expertly pulls together the various strands of her enthralling story. A story that has a shocking, unexpected and chilling conclusion and stars a cast of vivid, realistic and relatable and mostly not very unlikeable individuals. I really really enjoyed this gripping thriller and look forward to reading many many more of this author's books in present future.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Trollip

    The Girl She Was Before is a riveting debut crime thriller from Jess Kitching. It’s a story that’s rooted in overcoming the challenges of a difficult youth, and one that questions whether you can ever outrun your past. Nat lives a picture-perfect life, or so it seems. She has a handsome husband, a sweet baby girl and lives in a beautiful home. As an online influencer this is the image she presents to the world, but behind her smile she hides emotional scars from the torment she suffered from bull The Girl She Was Before is a riveting debut crime thriller from Jess Kitching. It’s a story that’s rooted in overcoming the challenges of a difficult youth, and one that questions whether you can ever outrun your past. Nat lives a picture-perfect life, or so it seems. She has a handsome husband, a sweet baby girl and lives in a beautiful home. As an online influencer this is the image she presents to the world, but behind her smile she hides emotional scars from the torment she suffered from bullies growing up. She’s tried to leave all of that hurt behind her, in fact Nat is now even friends with the girls who once bullied her at school. Although she has everything she always thought she’d wanted, she’s finally popular and has thousands who’d like to be just like her, her world is turned upside down when her best friend is murdered. Self-doubt about who she really is creeps into every fibre of her being, invading every aspect of her life. Nat is pushed to her limits, wondering if she’s a good enough wife, mom or friend as painful memories from her school days return unwanted. The story moves between the past and the present, giving us an intimate look at the torment suffered at the hands of the girls who bullied her. As the ringleader of her then tormentors returns unexpectedly to the small town, Nat is surprised to discover that she’s still afraid of Chrissy Summers. Fixated on proving Chrissy is behind her friend’s death, she slowly spirals out of control as she starts to lose everything that’s most important to her and that she’s worked so hard to build. Her life begins to unravel, and the girl who once was nothing and now has it all becomes the girl who ultimately stands to lose it all too. I felt myself pulled into this book, horrified at the relentless bullying inflicted on a young girl and cheering for her to overcome the odds and succeed as she did. It’s because of all she did overcome that Nat’s fall from grace is all the harder to witness unfolding, as the persistent attack on her breaks her down mentally and she reacts to the circumstances that unravel around her which she seems unable to control. There was a major twist that I was not expecting and, even though I was delighted to have been so hoodwinked, it also left me questioning everything I had read before then and feeling more than a little unsettled at the outcome. The mark of a good thriller I believe! The Girl She Was Before swept me up in it’s cleverly conceived plot and left me wondering about it’s shocking ending even after I had finished the book. I can’t wait to see what Jess Kitching has in store for us next. Trigger warning: bullying and profanity.

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