Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Becky's View: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
♦publisher: HarperTeen
♦release date: March 19, 2013
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
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 home…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.

Review: This is no easy read. Be forewarned, the subject matter is not pleasant.  Pretty Girl-13 is a psychological mystery that will have you simultaneously gripping the pages and wanting to throw the book into a corner to feel safe again as you realize that situations like this actually happen.  This is the story of Angie who was kidnapped at 13, and three years later she finds herself walking home, with no memory whatsoever of how she got there or that the years have even passed.  It starts as a creepy story about memory loss and spirals quickly into the story of a girl whose whole being has been fractured in several pieces.  It's gritty realistic fiction, but at times was so disturbing and trippy that it felt almost paranormal.

I've always been fascinating by multiple personality cases.  The disturbing part is hearing about what traumatic events can cause them.  Angie went through some terrible things, and her brain split into different personalities to enable her to cope with them.  Now that she's back home, those personalities are keeping their secrets---and Angie has to decide if she really wants to know.  The way the story is told is so well done. Each personality makes their appearance either through letters or recordings to Angie when they are in control, or under hypnosis.  Part of the tension of the story deals with Angie and her parents dealing with what happened as a family, the guilt and anger and sadness is all addressed and feels volatile and real. Still, I felt Angie faced her situation with courage, while still showing a very definite vulnerability when it comes to how she feels towards the different "people" inside her. 

The story unfolds with compelling quickness, and while some things that I'm sure were meant to be revelations were fairly predictable, it was one hell of ride watching Angie unfold her own mysteries.  One small thing that just wouldn't stop bothering me about Angie's story (and it's a tiny bit spoilery so I'll white it out):* What on earth was Angie doing offering to babysit when she knew she could black out at any time? And what kind of irresponsible parents would allow their teen to babysit knowing she had an unstable personality??  Just the mother in me having a freak out about that part, I guess. :) * I would hope that that would never happen, so I guess it came across as a bit unrealistic and contrived just to fuel a subplot.

Pretty Girl-13 was still a fascinating and stomach-churningly horrific story of one girl's discovery of a past that is she is slowly revealing to herself and learning to make herself whole again, built from the strengths of each of her many different sides. 
 Find Liz Coley online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase Pretty Girl-13:  Amazon  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound


  1. Great Review, this sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing :D

  2. OMG! I bought it today and it sounds great. Can't wait to start it!!! Great review. Love your blog <3

  3. This book looks sounds great. Great review!

  4. This seems like a fascinating story. I don't always like to read such difficult stories, but when I do, I always love them. Great review!