The Girl I Used to Know

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Member Reviews

I admit to being a huge Faith Hogan fan so I couldn't wait to get my hands on her new book; she writes such emotive and compelling fiction with strong female characters who you think of as friends as the book goes on.  The Girl I Used to Know is so perfectly named as it describes the journey our two main characters are on.  In this case, both women must shed the masks they have worn for so long in order to find their very own girl they used to know.  

Amanda lives in a beautiful Georgian house and her life revolves around her husband and children.  Amanda gets quite a wake up call when she catches sight of her reflection in a window and doesn't recognise the person she sees.  With her husband spending more and more time 'at work', Amanda can spend some time reconnecting with the girl buried beneath the excess pounds.

Tess is a sitting tenant in Amanda's basement and the pair can barely say a civil word to each other.  Amanda always imagined that she would include the basement as part of her home but Tess has no intention of moving out.  With Tess getting older, she has no intention of popping her clogs too soon and making it easy for Amanda to get her hands on the basement flat.

When fate plays a hand and the two women find themselves spending time with each other, they find that the other isn't the person they thought she was.  Amanda appears to have had an easy life, being given everything she ever wanted and dreamed of, whereas life has not been kind to Tess leaving her bitter and unhappy.  They are each other's perfect medicine, along with a drop of whiskey and Matt the cat, of course.

I do love dual storyline books as you unravel the threads of a person's life to find out why and how they are the person they are now.  As prickly as she was, I warmed to Tess straight away and was pinning my colours to her mast in the fight with Amanda, who I found to be one of those personality-free women...at first, I hasten to add.  Then I started to feel so sorry for Amanda as she hadn't done anything to deserve what she was going through, but my pity turned to triumph as Amanda the beautiful butterfly emerged from her comfy old chrysalis.

This is another amazing book by Faith Hogan, one that leaves your heart fit to burst but is actually so thought-provoking that you can't help but examine your own life to see if you can reveal your happier true self from years ago.  Pick it up today and maybe you will find the girl YOU used to know.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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I suspect I might have mentioned before, in passing, that Faith Hogan has very quickly become one of my favourite authors – and one of my favourite people too. It’s a delight and a pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for her latest, The Girl I Used to Know, published on 1st December by Aria Fiction, and available for kindle, Kobo and on iBooks (and just 99p in all formats): my thanks to the publisher and netgalley for my advance reading e-copy.

I really enjoyed her first, My Husband’s Wives, a wonderful read about the intricacies of female friendship, love in its many guises, and a group of women each finding their own strength to move on – you can read my full review here. Then there was Secrets We Keep – described perfectly as “a bittersweet story of love, loss and life”, I think I might have liked it even more (review here). But this one… oh my goodness! They call it “a beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it” – and they couldn’t have summed it up any more perfectly.

This was one of those books that you’d like to go on for ever – I just couldn’t carve out any concentrated reading time this week (which would have been my idea of reading heaven), but every time I was forced to set this book aside I couldn’t wait for the next opportunity to pick it up, and it was constantly in my thoughts. The author’s writing is several notches more accomplished than it was in the earlier books (and I do distinctly remember using the word “accomplished” about them too), and the way this book succeeded in engaging my every emotion was quite exceptional.

The two women at this book’s heart are perfectly drawn. At the start you may just find them “interesting”, as their past and present is laid out before you – you might not even like either of them very much, even wonder how they can sustain a story. But it doesn’t take very long until you feel for them both with every fibre of your being – when a book moves you to tears (and several times), has you laughing out loud, brings a lump to your throat, and then makes you cry again with sheer joy, you know you’re reading something rather special.

Tess – in the present – is in her sixties, lonely (although she’d never admit it) and cantankerous, and you’ll wonder how you could ever grow to love her, but you will. The author herself is a great deal younger, but her insight into the mind and feelings of her creation absolutely took my breath away. It’s not difficult to find a lot you’ll recognise in Amanda too – and I just loved the strength she shows as she transforms her life and discovers those things that are most important for her happiness. And the relationship between the two women is just perfectly handled as they both feel their way forward. The supporting cast are excellent too – Tess’s mousy sister Nancy (and their interesting sibling relationship), Amanda’s obnoxious husband, her teenage daughter Robyn, gorgeous gardener Carlos, and the wonderful Kilker. And as for Matt… well, what a character he is! And then there’s the house, the flat and the square itself – almost characters in their own right.

The pacing – the ebb and flow – of the story is absolutely faultless, and its unfolding an absolute joy. Without a shadow of doubt, this is one of my favourite books of the year.
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In The Girl I Used to Know we have two strong female lead characters in Tess Cuffe and Amanda King. These two share a house though not particularly willingly. Tess rents the scruffy basement flat of Amanda and Richard King's large and immaculate Georgian house in Dublin. The two do not have what you would call a warm relationship since Richard has tried unsuccessfully and at great expense to evict Tess. 

On the outside, Amanda appears to have the perfect life. In her 40s, she has two children, a beautifully stylish house, a successful and handsome husband and a group of stylish friends. Yet Amanda is increasingly wondering what happened to her life. She hardly sees her husband as he is constantly at work, her teenage son in particular is turning into a sneering youth with barely disguised contempt, she feels that her life has lost its way and she has lost her sense of who she really is along the way.

Tess is in her 60s, lives alone and appears to delight in being cantankerous. Her health isn't the best and she has no friends. She didn't initially seem to be a character who I would warm to she seemed to have very little redeeming characteristics. But with the arrival of Matt on her doorstep (a great addition to the story!) we soon begin to see her softer side.

Through the chapters woven through the book from years gone by, the author shows her readers the girls both Tess and Amanda used to be. I was so intrigued about what had happened in Tess's life in particular to change her from the optimistic girl moving to Dublin to start at Uni to the grumpy woman, living alone with no enthusiasm for life. Faith Hogan writes movingly and with great insight about how Tess and Amanda's hopes and dreams slowly ebbed away leaving them both with disappointing realities, and lives they felt trapped in. I loved the way the women blossomed and grew in confidence as they took the first tentative steps towards friendship just as their new keep fit routines saw them taking steps round the square where they lived. The author had just the right balance of insights into the past blended with their present lives to create understanding and empathy with her characters.

A wonderful warm-hearted book about missed opportunities, second chances, friendship and how it's never too late to have a new adventure and to find love.
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Have you ever had an opinion about someone, despite not knowing their true personality?
Have you ever disregarded someone as a friend because a spouse, family member or friend, didn't like them?
Have you ever been stuck in a rut so deep, you lost sight of who you truly were?
Have you ever thought 'enough is enough' and felt empowered to change all of the above?

Yes? Me too. Amanda and Tess too, funnily enough.

Tess Cuffe has always believed that her life was destined for stardom. However, even a well thought out idea doesn't always go to plan and, instead of Tess rubbing shoulders with singers from all walks of life, she has spent many years being too afraid to live her own life. 

And then there's Amanda King. A woman who, from the outside, has everything she could ever dream of; an endless pot of gold in the bank, a pigeon pair (boy and a girl), and a life of luxury. Although is it REALLY a life of luxury? From spending her time painting, to being married and surrounding herself with two-faced, backstabbing people, Amanda starts to question her choices in life.

What a jam-packed, thought-provoking novel! We wouldn't be human if we hadn't spent a little time stuck in a rut at some point in our lifetime, right? It's never too late to get ourselves out of that particular rut, but often we find that we need a little bit of help to do so, even if we aren't aware of it at the time. As far as Tess Cuffe is concerned, Amanda King lives a life most people could only dream of and, as far as Amanda King's husband is concerned, Tess Cuffe is a waste of space who is ruining the look of their house. Of course, just like the house, nothing is ever quite what it seems, is it?

Firstly, Amanda's husband, Richard, needs his nether regions taken off. From the first moment he appeared in the storyline, I knew straight away that I would have an issue with the character. He just oozed arrogance and came across as the biggest end of a bell I have ever met. Seriously. A little piece of me felt sorry for Amanda, but then another piece of me felt a little bit miffed that she didn't kick him from here to kingdom come. But I can say that, obviously, I'm not in the situation like Amanda is.

Secondly, I had a feeling that there was more to Tess Cuffe that met the eye. She really was like a diamond in the rough who just needed a little bit of TLC to realise that she does, in fact, deserve her spot on this Earth. I just wanted to give her a big hug and tell her that everything was okay. It was clear that this character had spent many, many years building a wall for herself, she had absolutely no idea how to act anymore.

Thirdly, Faith Hogan has written her best book yet. Fact. Even though I found the first couple of chapters a little on the slow side, I soon fell in love with the message which the author was able to put across via her characters. I guess I found it a little emotional because just like Amanda, I have spent years living in people's shadows, being afraid to bring the real me out again in case it didn't live up to other people's expectations. Whilst part of me felt that Amanda should have told her husband where to go, I can fully appreciate how low her self-esteem was and having being 'safe' in a marriage for so many years, living the life that Richard wanted was all Amanda has ever known. From the outside looking in, it is far too easy to sit and judge a situation without knowing all of the facts, yet having a smidgen of faith in someone can mean more than you could ever realise. For Amanda, Tess was that faith. For Tess, Amanda and her daughter, Robyn, was that faith. They just had to make themselves known to each other.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't find parts of this storyline a little emotional, because I did. I felt like each of the characters were talking to my soul, being that faith for me like they are to each other. I loved watching the characters find their wings and fly in a life which they believed in with every ounce of their being.

'The Girl I Used To Know' is a poignant, life affirming tale of faith, belief and being true to yourself. Taking that leap to say 'you know what, I do believe in my self' takes more courage than anyone could ever imagine, which from the bottom of my heart, I truly believe that Faith Hogan has conveyed with every ounce of her being. I adored this book and everything it stands for. Everyone needs a Tess and Amanda in their lives, and everyone needs to read this book as it truly is beautifully.

Faith Hogan's best book ever, 'The Girl I Used To Know' is a beautifully written, heart-warming and touching novel which is guaranteed to stay in your heart for a very, very long time.

Thanks Aria.
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Favorite Quotes:

Maureen Cuffe was a mouse of a woman, forever playing small to augment her husband’s supremacy…  her mother talked of his impending retirement with a sense of doom worthy of an undertaker. ‘Not long now,’ she would say when he left the house.

She actually nodded towards the dumpy little woman, with absurd copper rouge hair piled too high on her head. She stood transfixed, once she realised it was her own reflection. She studied the woman staring back at her with her expensive clothes and too much make-up. Amanda King was under there, somewhere. Her breath caught in her throat, she had been lovely, once. Where was that girl she used to know? 

Nicola thought all teenagers should be sent away to boarding school. Nicola’s kids were packed off as soon as there was the danger of a negligent hormone ripening to make her perfect life appear untidy.

‘I’ve started exercising, just gently until I’m fully mobile,’ she whispered. Somehow, it didn’t seem right to add that she had only started to want to live longer so she could spite her neighbours.

Well, I’ll tell you this for nothing, if he so much as winked at me, I’d have my best linen on the bed and I’d be inviting him in for a stiff one before we got down to business…


My Review:

I found The Girl I Used To Know to be a captivating and resonant story – I adored it, but I might not have fully grasped the brilliance and depth of the insightful narrative when I was in my roaring 20s, but I’m older, and thankfully, much wiser now.  Ms. Hogan turned out wryly humorous, craftily paced, well-written, and engaging tale that frequently had me smirking yet also squeezed my heart and stung my eyes.  Although I have never been to Ireland and would love to, it didn’t matter where this story had been based as these women’s transformative tales were universal; betrayal, regret, loneliness, missed opportunities, heartbreak, infidelity, losing oneself – these unfortunate events happen everywhere and in every culture.  I adored the clever juxtapositions and parallels drawn between the upstairs occupant and basement tenant who had always been at odds and had at first glance appeared so different. Ms. Hogan is an observant and cunning scribe; I greedily want all her clever words.
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5☆ Compelling, A journey of self discovery, friendships and Second Chances!

The Girl I Used to Know is a beautiful story of two very different women living in virtually the same house as strangers but come together to form an unlikely  friendship.

It's a beautifully Heartwarming and compelling read. It's about friendship, Family, Relationships and a second chance at happiness.

Amanda seems to have it all. The gorgeous Four storey Georgian House, with 2 teenage children and a husband that gives her everything!

Ok now as everyone knows, 
no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors..... 
how I see Amanda is.... 
she's down trodden, she dotes on Richard her husband, yet he just uses her as a trophy wife and really has no appreciation or time for her, he makes her attend all the coffee afternoons with his colleagues wives just to keep up with the jones!
Nothing Amanda owns is hers!!
Even her children disrespect her and talk to her like she is dirt! 
She has lost all her passion and Zest for life!

Ok so now we meet Tess.
Tess is a very interesting character.
She came to Dublin to study music with her older sister.
Their Father is extremely controlling and only allows Tess to leave if her sister goes too. In turn forcing her sister into a career she has no interest in.
She fears her sister will become just like her mother. A doormat for her husband, who isn't allowed any opinions or thoughts!
A Little like Amanda!

Tess is in her 60s and has been living in Amanda's basement Flat of her house since she was about 17/18ish.
Richard sees her as an inconvenience and wants her OUT! But the law says different!

Amanda and Tess really despise each other. Sniping whenever they can.
Although I can't help thinking Amanda was only like that because of her pig of a husband!

However it takes a gorgeous cat to help ease the women's tension towards each other, and the hate turns to respect which in turn ends up with them actually liking each other.

Both women are equally as stubborn, yet full of pain, sadness and anguish from their past and current relationships.
It was so beautiful and uplifting seeing Amanda and Tess both very different in age and personality come together in friendship.

I adored Tess and Amanda's back story. It was so lovely to get an insight into their lives and it makes sense why they are the way they are. Particularly Tess who's past is emotional. 

The Girl I Used to Know is the Perfect title for this gorgeous Gem of a book.
It really is a story of looking in the mirror and realising what is happening and setting about changing it. A story of new beginnings and second chances.

Faith Hogan writes with such passion and ease, she had me enthralled with the storyline and characters. She had me investing my heart into caring for them and wanting them to be happy! 
After all we are all seeking that Happy Ending! 

If you are looking for a compelling, uplifting read that will warm your heart, have you giggling in places, and will leave you reading just one page more, then this is one for you! The Perfect Winter Cosy read.
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The book tells the story of Tess and Amanda. Both live in parts of the same house, both are unhappy, but at the start of the book are enemies.
As the book progresses they find friendship with each other as Tess confronts the past and Amanda faces up to the present.
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I'm delighted to be on the book tour for this wonderful story, so I wont' write everything here! It's a lovely book about friendship and belonging, the story or two women stuck in a rut with their lives, but each with so much more to offer if they could only find the confidence to shine. Can enemies become friends?  It's a heartwarming tale and I thoroughly enjoyed it x
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The Girl I Used to Know is a beautifully written book that takes you through the lives of two women who live in a house in Ireland...One is in a basement apartment and is elderly and the other lives upstairs in the perfectly decorated main house.  Neither of them are happy in their lives.  The novel explores how they arrived at the place in their lives where they intersect and become unlikely friends and how very different people with lives that seem to be opposite incarnations of each other can enjoy a close friendship...and change each other's lives for the better.
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Uplifting, absorbing, and delightfully inspiring!

The Girl I Used To Know is a heartwarming story that immerses you in a tale about letting go of the past, embracing the future and discovering one’s true self at any age.

The prose is effortless and fluid. The plot is a wonderful blend of heart, humour, and hope. And the characterization is spot on with a memorable cast of characters, including two strong, determined, resilient women who learn through compassion and friendship how to move on, find true happiness and be unconditionally loved.

The Girl I Used To Know is, ultimately, a story about life, love, loss, dreams, heartache, infidelity, family, and romance. It is a beautifully written, beguiling novel by Hogan that highlights just how meaningful and powerful friendships can truly be.
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This is a highly original story of two women who live in the same house, Tess being the unwanted tenant of the ground floor flat and Amanda living with her husband, Richard, and their children in the other floors of the house. Initially the story fills in background information on how the two came to live there and their somewhat confrontational relationship. After very different triggers, these two lonely women start to re-evaluate their lives, making personal discoveries en route. Events from different eras in the lives of both ladies are shared through date headed chapters, making it easy for readers to understand when these events occurred. It is a renaissance experience for both ladies and a cat has a significant role in helping them discover more about themselves and that true friendship can develop with the most unexpected people!

The story is filled with surprises and is a real emotional roller coaster. There are unexpected highs and lows for both ladies. Relationships with others are also explored and it is mostly an entertaining read. Neither lady is initially appealing or likeable but, as you learn more about them, they grow on you so it is easier to empathise with them. It is a poignant, hopeful story with some humorous interludes that demonstrates the power of true friendship.

I requested and received a copy of this novel, via NetGalley. This is my honest review after choosing to read it.
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Two women are uneasy neighbours. On the surface, they have very little in common except for the hostility between them. New Year's Eve starts a chain of events that draws their paths together in ways they would never imagine.
This is classic Irish storytelling,  which spans three time periods. Each foray into the past builds a picture of why Amanda and Tess are the people they are.
Neither character is immediately likeable but they are believable and as the story unfolds, so do their true personalities. The revelations make their past choices and present situations easier to understand and Amanda and Tessa easier to empathise.

 Amanda's life is cosmetically perfect but underneath the surface, there are too many cracks, and she realises she is existing not living. Tess' accidents make her take stock of her life and vow to make something of the time she has left.  It is this realisation, coupled with a teenage girl who wants to help and a cat who wants a warm welcome that makes her start to trust again and value herself.

The story is well paced, and the ending ties up everything and gives hope for a happier future.

A poignant, sometimes comical, enjoyable story.

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Initially, I was not sure if I was going to like this novel. It opened rather droll but when I realized that the author was laying the background information on the characters to be flushed out later, I began to enjoy it.
After all of the character descriptions, the book picks up the pace and the lives of the characters begin to intersect and affect each other. Tess is an older woman living a life based on past hurt and the inability to forgive. Amanda is a wife who has lost the true meaning of self as she molded herself to be what she considered a perfect wife and mother to be. Robyn is Amanda’s daughter who is instrumental in bringing Tess and Amanda together.
There is a considerable amount of accounting for the personal histories of Tess and Amanda which enrich the plot and show where pulled threads began unraveling in their lives.
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This is a charming tale of two women, their friendship, missed opportunities  and new beginnings based around a picturesque Dublin square.

It’s slow to start, but, as the characters become clearer the author moves the storyline  along at a great pace. I also enjoyed the ‘look back’ chapters which help shape the story and engage you more in the women and their history.

It’s a good book to curl up with. An easy read.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Aria fiction for the opportunity to preview this book.
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I loved the flashbacks to the past to see where everything changed for Amanda and Tess. Both characters had a strength and resilience to cope with what life has thrown at them. Even if it takes them time to put the pieces together and move forward. They both have their flaws which made them all the more realistic and I really enjoyed the start of their tentative friendship. There is such a warmth to the story and that is down to the writing of the characters, I couldn't help but root for them. Hoping they would get the happy ending that they deserved.

Faith Hogan has created a wonderful story that will easily draw you in and take hold of you with some emotional and heartfelt moments. There are themes of new beginnings and taking a chance at achieving something better than what you already have. Along with the addition of some lovely minor characters who also bring a lot of love to the story as they become involved in Tess and Amanda's lives. It was so easy to become immersed in this story with it moving at a lovely pace that saw me finishing the book in no time.

The Girl I Used To Know is an emotional, uplifting story that is filled with friendship, family and love. 

With thanks to Melanie at Aria for the invite to join the tour and for my copy via Netgalley. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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I received an Advanced Reader Copy from NetGalley for my unbiased opinion of the book.  I really enjoyed this book.  It started sluggish and took me to the middle of the book for it to fly. The choices Tess Cuffe and Amanda King make early in life are weighing them down in the second half of their lives.  Also, it affects the living situation they both are in as landlord and tenant.  Due to a series of life circumstances that forces them to reassess their lives and how they choose to move forward by changing your thinking, actions, and how it permeates all other aspects of their lives. It forces them in to funny situations and help make them a powerful finish to this book that doesn't disappoint!
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The Girl I Used to Know by Faith Hogan is an entertaining, and lively read about second chances, taking control of your life, and the power of friendship.  Which is exactly the kind of inspiring and uplifting read that I love to snuggle up with........
 
(see the full review on www.betweenmylines.com after 4 Dec 17)
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This is such a perfect novel .. it has everything! Past and present, angst, secrets, lies, failed relationships and the discovery of new friends. I cannot think when I last read a book which swallowed me up, heart and soul.

The lives of the two main characters are so very different and yet there are similarities: Tess, a gifted young singer who throws it all away for unrequited love and Amanda, who has it all – until she realises she doesn’t have happiness. I love reading about two characters alternatively and this novel also offers the ‘now and then’ perspectives and I’m happy to say I just sank into this book and allowed the story to wash over me.

Faith Hogan writes beautifully; her novels are fast reaching the top of my ‘must read’ list and this one exceeded all expectations. I’m always surprised at how some authors can come up with such different stories for their books and, in my opinion, Faith excels at this. All her novels are worth reading but this one shines brightest. I would not only recommend this as a great read, but also as a wonderful gift.

My thanks to Aria and NetGalley. This is my honest, original and unbiased review.
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Amanda and Tess don't like each other very much. They share the same house, but Amanda would love to get rid of Tess, who's an unwelcome tenant she and her husband Richard can't evict. Amanda and Tess have something in common though, they're both lonely. Tess's heart was broken a long time ago and she hasn't been able to let anyone come close ever since. Amanda's marriage is loveless and cold, her so called friends don't really care about her and her children aren't that nice to her either. Wouldn't it be beneficial for Tess and Amanda to get to know each other?

Amanda and Tess are both stubborn and taking the first step towards reconciliation isn't an easy thing to do. Fortunately they get help from a cheeky cat and Amanda's worried daughter. Slowly a connection is being formed, but will they be able to actually like each other after many years of animosity and what will change in both of their lives when Amanda and Tess start to let people in again?

The Girl I Used to Know is a fantastic original story. Tess and Amanda are completely different people and it was fun to see their interactions. At first they're hostile. While they shared the same house for many years they never tried to find out anything about one another, they just existed in the same place without the effort of getting to know each other. However, situations can change and when they do in this story things become incredibly interesting. Tess has a fantastic way of expressing herself and her comments often made me laugh. Amanda has a lot more to offer than she's showing people and I was curious to find out more about the person she was behind the superficial facade she's given herself to please her husband. I was intrigued from the start because of the dynamics between the main characters, the hostility, the hope and promise the situation offers and the large number of possible outcomes of the story. I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out where it would lead.

Faith Hogan has a wonderful warm writing style. Her stories are filled with surprises, she doesn't make it easy for her main characters and she knows how to effortlessly explain complex emotional situations. She skillfully writes about feelings and I love how she always knows the exact right thing to say. The Girl I Used to Know is a story about betrayal, friendship, love and choosing to live. It's a fantastic inspiring story. I was entertained, charmed and compelled and I highly recommend this beautiful book.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.  Strong and sad story of friendship and how this can be overcome.  This is a 5 star review
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