by Liz Coley
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 19th 2013
Source: ARC from Wastepaper Prose
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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 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?
Pretty Girl-13's summary doesn't make it sound like an "easy" novel, but I was still surprised by how dark the story was. Seriously, this book is dark. Angie's story is no walk in the park and I'd imagine that it could definitely be triggering for people with a history of abuse. That being said, it was an engaging and completely unputdownable read. I raced through this book. It was so addicting, and not because it was dark and edgy, but because the psychological mystery was just so fascinating. I loved it.
Angie Chapman disappeared for 3 years, only to reappear with no memory of the time while she was gone. Instead, she has alternate personalities that took over while she was abducted. Angie, with the help of her awesome psychiatrist Dr. Grant, use a myriad of psychological tricks to get the alters to talk so they can piece together the missing 3 years.
I know it sounds a bit weird, but I have always been interested in kidnapping stories and multiple personalities. There's something so intriguing and mysterious about both situations. Out of all the books that I've read involving kidnappings, Pretty Girl-13 is probably my favorite because it's so much more than just a kidnapping story. It's a psychological mystery, and a tale of one girls journey to self discovery. It's dark yes, but it also has light, and that is what makes it so great. It isn't just a kidnapping story for exploitations sake. Pretty Girl-13 has depth, and a purpose beyond the mystery.
Overall I would recommend this book, but with reservations. It's definitely one of the most mature YA novels I've read, and the subject matter, which is already quite dark to begin with, is not glossed over or sugar coated in anyway. Liz Coley is not afraid to have the reader face everything head on, so if you're sensitive to stories involving sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, not to mention the whole kidnapping aspect, I would probably skip this one. I also would only really recommend it to older teens and adults, just because the subject matter is so dark. That being said, if you're looking for a novel that has a great psychological mystery, and is emotionally gripping I would definitely give Pretty Girl-13 a read.
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