Was I expecting a lot from Pretty Girl-13 when I ordered it on Amazon? Nope not at all. It is the authors debut young adult novel, and while in the past I have read some amazing debut novels, I never get my hopes up just in case. Well, Pretty Girl-13 is definitely now one of my favorite books I have ever read. This book shook me to my core and I was left speechless when I finished it. I cannot wait to see what other books Liz Coley writes in the future, but overall I am very happy I read this.
Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
On a girl scouts camping trip three years ago, Angie ventured out into the woods alone in the morning to take care of business. She has just returned home only to find out that three years have gone by and she is now sixteen years old. So what happened to Angie in the past three years? She doesn’t know. There are other people who do know and could tell her every detail of what had happened those three years she went missing, except they are in her mind. Angie decides to go on the journey to learn about her other personalities, known as her “alters”, and here their stories of what had happened in the three years that she had missed. As Angie discovers more about her past, she comes across a terrifying secret and she has to decide when you remember something you want to forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?
Once again, I just loved, loved, loved Pretty Girl-13. It was loosely based off of the Elizabeth Smart case from years ago and it showed you what it was like to go through something so horrific that you had no control over and no way to escape. I thought it was interesting to see inside of the mind of someone, even fictional, who suffered from DID-Disassociative Identity Disorder. It even scared me a little to realize how easily anyone could create multiple personalities if they were to go through something tragic or terrifying in their life. It was a little creepy too because often Angie’s “alters” would take control of her body and she would forget what had happened while they were in control. I felt so many emotions when reading Pretty Girl-13. I felt sympathy for Angie of course to have to deal with so much at such a young age. I felt rage towards her kidnapper and sometimes got annoyed with her father and his lack of compassion. I even felt separate emotions for Angie’s “alters” because although they were actually in a way Angie, they each felt like a different person when I was reading the book. The thing that gave me the chills the most while I was reading Pretty Girl-13 was that I felt like I could have been reading a non-fiction book as opposed to a fictional book, which lead me to think that there is probably a few girls out there who have experienced similar situations and my heart just breaks for them.
When looking at the reviews on Goodreads, there was a lot of mixed reviews. A lot of reviewers mentioned how it was very predictable, but then again I didn’t feel like the author was necessarily trying to make you guess what happens. You know right from the summary on the back of the book that Angie has multiple personalities, but you don’t know how many or what kinds of personalities they are (protectors, fighters, ect.). There were some parts of the story that surprised me as well because I hadn’t been expecting more problems to be thrown into the mix.
Overall I thought this was an amazing book and well written. It does deal with some tough topics, child abuse and sexual assault, but it also gives you insight into how it would be if something horrible like this were to happen to you or your daughter. The pace of the book was excellent and never once did I feel like I couldn’t get into the story or that the story was being dragged out. It was such a quick book to finish as well even though it was over 300 pages, you just get so attached to Angie’s story that you want to keep reading and find out what happens at the end.
Because this book does deal with some sensitive topics, I would not recommend anyone under the age of 14 to read this book, and 14 might even be a little bit too young. I feel like this might scare younger girls if they aren’t mature enough to read about the topics that are expressed in Pretty Girl-13.