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Review: Pretty Girl 13
Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley. Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 2013. Reviewed from ARC.
The Plot: Angie is on a Girl Scout Camping trip when she leaves her tent in the early morning to find a private space to “take care of business.”
Three years later, she appears at her own front door, confused, bewildered, with no idea what happened to her.
No idea where she’s been for the last three years.
She doesn’t even know three years have passed.
Angie looks at her parents, older, and acting so weird. She looks in the mirror and sees a face that she only vaguely recognizes. It is older, it is thinner. Her body is hers and not hers, with strange scars. Marks on her wrists and ankles.
Where has she been? What has happened to her?
The Good: A girl, lost, then found. A miracle! A miracle with so many questions, and Angie is the only one who can answer them.
Pretty Girl 13 is about Angie’s return to her family, with Angie thinking and believing she is a thirteen year old. Thinking and believing nothing bad has happened. Confused and angry and uncertain about the lost years. Angie cannot just step back into her old life, no matter how hard she wishes it, because time has passed. She is not thirteen. Her friends are no longer thirteen.
Pretty Girl 13 is about Angie’s journey in remembering what happened, while trying to navigate the world she is now in.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, even before Angie does, Angie did not run away. Angie did not get lost and wander in the forest for three years. Angie was not taken in by a kindly person wanting a child of their own.
Angie was taken by a man. And while he would say it was for love — it was not for love or kindness.
How Angie dealt with the trauma of the kidnapping and being held for three years and all that happened during those three years is complex; it is heart breaking; and it is not something that is discovered easily. Basically, she created multiple personalities to protect herself, so that things didn’t happen to “Angie.” “Angie” remained protected and whole, to return to her family as if nothing happened.
Except, of course, something did happen. And Angie has to become whole, to face the truth of those three years and the truth of the present. And that takes time.
One important thing to know about Pretty Girl 13: It is about surviving. Angie is a survivor. She does not realize it at first. It takes time: she and the reader realize it as she learns about the personalities that formed to protect her, personalities that are indeed part of her. A terrible thing happened; and it marked her; but it does not define her.
Other reviews: Belle of the Literati; Book Chic; Busy Bibliophile.
Filed under: Reviews
About Elizabeth Burns
Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is email@example.com.
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