Title: Pretty Girl – 13
Author: Liz Coley
Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological thriller about a girl who must piece together the mystery of her kidnapping and abuse. Perfect for fans of books like Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl, and Caroline B. Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton series, Pretty Girl-13 is a haunting yet ultimately uplifting story about the healing power of courage, hope, and love.
Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods on a Girl Scout 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 last three years of her life? With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her lost time. She eventually discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: what do you do when you remember things you wish you could forget?
It has been an extremely long time since I have given a book a 5-star review, and Pretty Girl – 13 more than deserved that rating. Liz Coley is an author like myself – we don’t shy away from serious subjects, and we both like to force the reader to confront things that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Pretty Girl – 13 is not a pleasant novel, and that is why it excelled. Coley clearly did her research on mental illness in terms of dissociative identity disorder, and the book kept unfolding like an onion. As soon as I thought I had everything figured out, Coley would pop out another surprise, and none of them were tacky or ill-conceived. Each event that was placed in this novel was meaningful and important to the story.
Now, with stories that involve mental illness and abuse, the book is bound to have a mixed audience. There are those who say that this book isn’t realistic, and others who think that it is perfect for defining the events that occur in the book. However, think of it this way. Do you think that every YA novel about a kid in high school defines every possible high school experience?
Of course not.
Each book is a different take on specific situations, and this book is a well-researched take on dissociative identity disorder. Coley even states in the back of the book that the situation presented in her writing is extreme, but it does reflect the struggles that sufferers of this disorder go through. Many of the events that happen to Angie are also consistent with certain kidnapping cases and those who have suffered from incestuous abuse. It is not impossible that those in those positions could develop this form of disorder, and Coley did a brilliant job at putting the reader in Angie’s shoes. This book is perfect to allow readers to understand a different perspective and extend their empathy to those who may be suffering from mental disorders.
I would not recommend this book to children under sixteen years old due to the intense scenes and triggering events, but it is perfect for older young adults – through adults looking for a realistic, psychological thriller.
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