Pretty Girl - 13
by Liz Coley
Category: Young Adult
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: Mar. 19, 2013
Page Count: 344
Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological thriller about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity and then piece together her own identity.
When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back--a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself. Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is hiding behind the terrible blankness? There are secrets you can’t even tell yourself.
With a tremendous amount of courage and support from unexpected friends, Angie embarks on a journey into the darkest corners of her mind. 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 people responsible, or is there another way to feel whole again?
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: Pretty Girl-13 is a book that I found through Goodreads when I was looking at books I might want to read in the future, and then it caught my eye again when I was at the library a few weeks ago. When I first picked it off of the shelf, it was the name and the cover that sparked my memory, and so I picked it up. Like everything else I get at the library, it sat on the table for a few weeks as I read through e-books and other things I was doing for review. Then this weekend I was sick and wanted to read a physical book instead, so I picked up Pretty Girl-13 and decided to give it a shot. Boy, am I glad that I did! It is one of the best books that I have read in awhile. Despite being haunting and quite sad, I could not put it down. While I was concerned with how I would feel when the book was over, I was given a satisfying and believable conclusion that was a very nice relief.
When the novel starts, Angela doesn't even remember what is going on, so it is difficult for the reader to get a feel for the character. I actually liked this a lot, the confusion the story begins with. Turns out that Angela was kidnapped while out on a Girl Scout camping trip, and she cannot remember the last three years of her life. When she shows up at home, all she remembers is having been camping the day before, and then returning home in different clothes. It isn't until her parents and a detective assure her that she is now sixteen that she realizes that something is very wrong.
This novel goes so much further than just being a kidnapping story, though. It brings in a disorder that I feel draws in the reader, at least it did with me. All of the sudden Angela has much more to deal with than the three years she can't remember; instead she has to deal with the different people that seem to be roaming around her mind. Along with that, the story isn't one where Angela continues to feel sorry for herself and never moves on - she wants answers, and she wants to fix things so she can move on. Even as she continues to get bad news after bad news, she doesn't swell and throw a pity party, she just wants to know how to take care of it and carry on with life.
One of my favorite things about this novel is that it does not focus on any sort of relationship. Sure, at the beginning there is an incident with a boy she liked before the kidnapping, and towards the end another boy comes in, but it is not a big part of the picture. While usually the romance is what I love about novels, I am glad that Coley did not make this a focus since there was so much else to think and worry about throughout the novel. Ultimately, I think that Coley did so many amazing things with this novel, and I really enjoyed reading it.
As I was reading through Goodreads, I was disappointed to see so many negative reviews of this book. A lot said it was "predictable," but I did not think that at all as I was reading. I suppose this just shows how differently two people can see the same book. That is the wonderful thing about reading though, isn't it? We all get out of it what we need. After reading My Story by Elizabeth Smart, I think it has made me more sensitive to the idea of a young girl being kidnapped. Even if this story was fiction, it seemed so real, and I appreciate Coley bringing to light something that happens far too often in our world. Showing young girls that it is possible to move on, even when things might seem impossible.