Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Title: Pretty Girl-13
Author: Liz Coley
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Source: ARC from blogger meet up
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository
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 along 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.

I love a good psychological thriller as much as the next person and that's exactly what I got with Liz Coley's Petty Girl-13. The story was completely different than what I thought it was going to be, but that it was different is probably what made it so I enjoyed it as much as I did. 

The last thing Angie remembers is leaving her tent to go to the bathroom when she was 13 on a girl scout camping trip. Now, 16 years olds, she finally finds her way home after having been missing for three years. Except she doesn't remember how she got there or what happened during the last three years of her life. Despite being 16, Angie still thinks she is 13 years old, same as she was when she went missing. While trying to piece together what happened during those years, Angie discovers more than she bargained for. Will she be able to handle it all? Or is she simply better not knowing what happened?

As much as I love happy and fun stories with happy endings when I read, my TV viewing habits tend to line up more with what I got in Liz Coley's Pretty Girl-13. When it comes to TV I am a sucker for anything involving a mystery, all the best if there's a psychological aspect to it all. So Pretty Girl-13 was perfect for me in that sense. I will admit, however, that I was a little hesitant to read it. As much as I love this stuff on a screen, when it's in a book my overactive brain tends to take things entirely too far so I started worrying what this book would do to my own mental wellness. But I shouldn't have worried, because Pretty Girl-13 was more about the aftermath of the kidnapping and return than it was about the time in captivity. And based on the flashbacks I saw, I don't think I would have been able to handle the whole book that way. The story that Liz Coley wrote ended up fascinating me completely. I absolutely loved the psychological aspect of the story, the way that the story was basically built around Angie's trauma and how it affected her mentally just fascinated me…though I'm not too sure what that actually says about me.

The story was basically around Angie. Sure there were other people around, but at this point, half of those people are actually different versions of Angie, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Angie was an interesting character. I can't even begin to imagine what she's gone through and what she had to do to cope with it all. And I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to come back after having been missing for three years, not remembering a single thing of that time. So that made her interesting. But what interested me even more than Angie, was the different identities she had created for dealing with her trauma. As much as what some of these identities revealed was traumatizing, I sort of wish I could have seen more of them, what they experienced (again, not sure what that says about me). What did surprise me about the story was that despite all this trauma, there was still some romance. But it was a romance that worked in the context of the story. It was about Angie finding someone who really cared about her and wouldn't push to do anything she didn't want to do. And I appreciated that considering everything Angie went through.

Liz Coley's Pretty Girl-13 was more than I could have asked for. It's a dark story, but it's also a story that is fascinating and will mess with your mind. It might even traumatize you at times. If you think you can handle it, then I would strongly recommend giving Pretty Girl-13 a chance.

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  1. I definitely agree. I feel like Pretty Girl 13 is a little underrated because it definitely has a punch. All the different versions of Angie were tragic and I loved seeing how Angie recovered from the experience. The romance also, surprisingly, worked because I agree, it was sweet. Great review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  2. I agree, I thought PG-13 was sooooo interesting. I had a few issues with it as well, but overall I thought it was well worth reading and definitely a quick one. The identities could have been fleshed out a little bit more (but then again, that's likely my curious nature coming out than any real fault of the author).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Emilie!

    Brenna from Esther's Ever After


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