Book Reviews

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

*Originally posted on Southern Bred, Southern Read Blog on 12/20/14*

Three years ago Angie was on a Girl Scout camping trip when she was kidnapped. Now it is three years later and she is standing in her driveway at her house with no memory of how she got there and where she has been. When she goes inside her house and calls for her mom, she doesn’t understand why her mom is so surprised she is there. Angie has no memory of being missing for the past three years. In her mind, she is still the same thirteen year old Girl Scout who was camping last night with her two best friends. As the book progresses, you find out that Angie has suffered severe mental and physical trauma. Her issues are so deeply rooted that her brain has developed multiple personalities to deal with the trauma. The book is the story of Angie learning about her mental illness, trying to recover and have some sort of normal life, and also piecing together what has happened to her to traumatize her so badly.

This is one of those books that you really need to go into with an open mind. It’s a really heavy subject focusing on mental illness and what someone with an identity disoder deals with and how they cope. To be very honest, if I would have read this book when I was younger, I would have thought it was ridiculous because I didn’t believe mental illness was a thing that someone couldn’t control. Like a lot of people, I was ignorant and assumed that if you could not physically see signs of being ill or injured, then it’s probably not a real thing. Now that I am older and have had to deal with mental illness in many different aspects of my life (personally and with family), I feel like I was able to really give Angie’s story the understanding and open mindedness that she deserved. After reading, I really just wanted to give Angie a hug and let her know she hasn’t nothing to be ashamed of.

As the story unfolds, it is truly shocking and horrifying what Angie dealt with, and you really are able to sympathize with her as to why her brain was trying to protect her. We get to know Angie’s different personalities:
-Girl Scout: The resourceful one with the can-do attitude. GS faces tasks with a positive attitude and using her Girl Scout training to get things done.
-Little Girl: The child who loves horses and is so innocent that it is heartbreaking. She is the personality that has suffered the most trauma, in my opinion.
-Little Wife: The girl who is forced to become a woman. She is the one that did whatever it took to keep Angie and the rest alive.
-Angel: The protector. He came in a time of need and did whatever he had to do to protect the others. -The fifth personality is the one that I won’t reveal much about because it would be too much of a spoiler. It doesn’t appear until closer to the end, but it is a HUGE part of the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I was captivated by Angie’s story and I just wanted to put all the pieces together and find out what truly happened and why Angie is the way she is. It was hard for me to put the book down because there were little twists around every corner that just kept adding to the puzzle. The one downfall to the book for me was the fire at the end (not revealing any more, that’s only a semi-spoiler). I feel like it took a really heartfelt story and kind of made it cheesy just for dramatic effect. I think the author needed a way to end the book and this was the best way to pull everything together. Even though this is technically a YA book, I would recommend it to adults or mature teens that would be able to understand and appreciate the book for what it is. I would also recommend it for those who enjoy suspenseful books or TV shows, particularly Law & Order: SVU.

4/5 stars

-Leah

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