Published by: Katherine Tegen Books on March 19, 2013
Genre: Abuse, Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Source: ARC From Publisher
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Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.
Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned homeâ¦only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen—or at least that's what everyone tells her.
What happened to the past three years of her life?
Angie doesn't know.
But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?
Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing-and ultimately empowering-page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.
Pretty Girl-13 completely took me by surprise! This book is really heavy. It’s dark, gritty, and deals with some seriously intense issues. I adored this book, but not in the usual girly, giddy, fan-girl-scream way. I adored Pretty Girl-13 in the sense that it really shook me to my core and left me speechless. It’s an extremely sad and emotionally draining book, but it will leave you with dark and heavy thoughts that are sure to change you.
My biggest fear going into Pretty Girl-13 was that the “alters” would be confusing. These “alters” are Angie’s other personalities. She developed them as a way to cope with extreme physical and emotional abuse. But I was afraid that these multiple personalities would make the book extremely confusing, especially if we were hopping from one personality’s point of view to another. But don’t worry—none of those fears became a reality; Liz Coley does a wonderful job crafting this book with zero confusion. It’s definitely intriguing and a bit freaky to think about, but it’s not confusing. For the most part, we don’t actually see from the other personalities’ points of view (there are a few minor exceptions). Usually when we hear from them it’s in the form of a physical letter or recording from one personality to Angie. This more ‘physical’ way of hearing from the other personalities made it really easy to relate to and almost just view them as separate people.
On a similar note: don’t be freaked out by the second person point of view in the prologue. I have to be honest, it scared the shit out of me. Second person isn’t something you come across often and I was confused, scared, and worried. It kind of put me off on a bad foot with Pretty Girl-13. But the rest of the book (or at least 99% of it) is formatted in a more traditional third person point of view. Now and then we do get the second person narrative, and that’s when we’re reading from an alter, who’s sort of talking to Angie as “You”. (I’m afraid I’m making this sound confusing, but I promise—it’s not.)
Liz Coley did a fabulous job of slowly revealing the information about Angie’s capture. We only learn bits and pieces at a time, but each new piece of information is a twist in the story. It’s bomb drop after bomb drop, and things just get scarier, creepier, and more traumatic. But Angie was a fabulously strong main character and I was amazed at how well she took everything. She was a real trooper, and I loved that about her! I also loved the integration of therapy. I’m usually one of the people that’s a little bit skeptical of therapy, but this book did a great job to demonstrate how therapy can really help a person overcome traumatic experiences, and it was brilliant!
Pretty Girl-13 is certainly a dark book and you can’t go into it light-hearted, but I highly recommend it if you’re looking for an intriguing, fascinating, and devastating read all in one. This book is just as hopeful as it is traumatic, and I love how Angie and Liz are able to point out the light amidst a sea of darkness.