The Girl She Was Before – Jess Kitching

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?

Book Info: Print Length: 335 pages. Publisher: Kingsley Publishers. Publication Date: 31 Oct 2021

Jess Kitching

Jess Kitching is an avid reader, writer and binge-watcher. Originally from Bradford, England, she currently lives in Sydney with her fiancé Jack. Her two goals in life were to move to Australia and have a book published. To be able to say she has done both is something she still can’t wrap her head around

My Review:

This is the debut novel by Jess Kitching and for a first book, it’s really good!

The Girl She Was Before centres around Nat, now a successful artist with a huge following on Instagram, a handsome and wealthy husband and a gorgeous little baby girl, Nat appears to “have it all”. However, have suffered from extreme bullying in her childhood, Nat may seem to be in control of her life, but underneath her shiny, glamorous exterior lies a deeply insecure individual still reliving the damage the school bullies inflicted on her.

The story is told through dual timeframes – THEN – narrated by a young girl cruelly nicknamed “Fish Sticks” who is the victim of the worst kind of bullying at school. Shunned by everyone, ridiculed, physically and verbally abused, teased, attacked and made to feel worthless, this narrator describes her torment in a raw and brutal voice, leaving the reader shocked to the core. At the centre of the bullying is Chrissy Summers, a young girl with a violent and sadistic side who rules the school with her 5 best friends tormenting other pupils and inflicting pain and fear everywhere.

The chapters narrated by Nat, titled NOW are set years later when these schoolgirls are now adults and still the best of friends.

One night two of the group have a car accident leaving one dead and the other in a coma. Upon closer inspection the police discover this isn’t an accident and the car was forced off the road, putting the rest of the group in fear for their lives as it appears someone from their past is looking for revenge.

This story is fast-paced and the short chapters kept me reading eager to find out what had happened. I, personally, wasn’t able to relate to any of the characters and didn’t particularly like any of them either, which did stop me from giving this book 5 stars, plus I had worked out who was behind the attacks quite early on in the book, which is probably because I read too many psychological thrillers and I am a very suspicious reader.

Overall, I enjoyed this debut and will definitely be reading more from this author.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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