Review - Pretty Girl 13

Author: Liz Coley
Date of Publication: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 344
Source: Library

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.

Pretty Girl 13 is a fascinating story with some very dark parts. Angie shows up one day at home with no memory of the past three years. She was lost, stolen in the woods and abused and assaulted. Her mind's way of dealing with that was to retreat into itself and create alternate personalities.

The story looks at the psychological implications of such an experience and it is pretty informative and interesting to learn about all the different parts of Angie and their secrets. There's also quite a few moral questions raised which makes for great reading. This book is different with a storyline that will remain in my mind. 

Although some of the plot twists were easy to figure out, Pretty Girl 13 consistently captured my attention. Angie's life was so screwed up and seeing her transformation from a terrified eighth grader in the body of a sixteen year old to a sixteen year old was well done.

If there's one complaint or issue I may have had it is that this book didn't go as emotionally in depth as it could have. I think this was a conscientious decision by the author because she wanted a book about healing, but not abuse, but at some point I would have liked some more personality for Angie beyond freaked out. 

That would have been hard to accomplish; giving Angie a full personality when she was fractured. So maybe it's an unwarranted, nitpicky complaint. There were still some emotional scenes and I think considering the gravity of the situation, the book was written well enough.

I would recommend this book because I liked reading. I was a little surprised to enjoy it so much. Pretty Girl 13 is a solid standalone read about an original topic which is exactly the type of books publishers should be publishing to diversify YA.

- P.E.


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