Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Pretty Girl-13

PRETTY GIRL-13
Liz Coley
Contemporary Young Adult
344 pages
Katherine Tegen Books
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Amazon)
Pretty girl
13 when she
went missing

lost
to her family
to her friends
to the world

found
but still missing
her self

In Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery, sixteen-year-old Angie Chapman must piece together the story of her kidnapping and abuse. Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing—and ultimately empowering—page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

MY THOUGHTS
Pretty Girl-13 is an immensely challenging story, not due to poor writing, unsatisfactory plot, or uninspiring characters, but simply because we read it as we might watch a horror film – fingers covering our eyes as though we can physically block out what’s happening on the pages and spare ourselves the haunting pain that comes with the knowledge of exactly what's happened to Angie. Our time with her is spent with what feels like a lead ball in the pit of our stomachs, and we're absolutely positive we can’t read another page and discover yet more abuse she’s endured, but at the same time we're driven to finish to provide Angie with companionship and another set of shoulders on which to unload her burden. This is a story we tackle with ice cold prickles teasing their way across our skin and shivers running down our backs, portents of gut-wrenching and soul-scarring things to come.

The setup of this book is truly brilliant, a chilling prologue written in second person setting us instantly on edge as we relive the moment of Angie’s disappearance at age thirteen, and then our unease only intensifies as we’re shifted into third person and arrive home with her three years later. Except three years haven’t passed for Angie, and it’s only yesterday to her that she wandered away from camp. What follows is a terrifyingly fascinating exploration of a mind both infinitely strong and yet broken at the same time, with Angie gamely trying to figure out how to fill in the enormous blanks and catch up mentally to where her body is physically. She’s understandably unsettled, having to deal not only with her amnesia and the subsequent revelations as to how and why she checked out for so long, but also with her changed family, the guilt and hurt her grieving parents don’t hide well causing new damage to an already wounded girl.

What’s so admirable about Angie is the way she copes with everything she learns as more and more about her time away is brought to light, taking each upsetting piece of information and accepting it for what it is: a part of her that can’t be changed. Though she doesn’t reveal everything to her parents (something we can’t even begin to hold against her), she is always open and honest with her therapist, seeking help at every opportunity without putting up a token struggle, and we can’t help but want to wrap our arms around her and praise her for the strength it takes to not only accept assistance, but also to face what memories that assistance unleashes.

While the occasional switch to second person after the prologue takes a little getting used to and the final reveal at the end happens with a series of jumbled thoughts and a time lapse that temporarily disorients, the story overall is stunningly tragic and beautifully hopeful at the same time, Angie’s brutal life one that will be nearly impossible to forget.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Liz:


This book was sent to me by the publisher  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

46 comments:

  1. I admit I was too scared to pick up this book. I was not sure this would be a book for me.

    As much as I loved your whole review, it was "he story overall is stunningly tragic and beautifully hopeful at the same time" what made me suddenly excited to read it!!

    With a story this tragic, I need hope at the end!

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    1. It was a hard read for sure Danny, but despite all she goes through there's hope at the end:)

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  2. Even though I am a big chicken (understatement!) I do like a good horror book every now and then and one that will get my heart pumping, either with pretend monsters or stuff that is too real to be fun.

    Awesome review!

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    1. This had more a mystery feel than horror, I just read it like I would watch a horror movie - in between my fingers as though that would change what happened to her! It's a dark story, but I loved Angie:)

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  3. Chilling is the perfect word to describe this book, I just read the premises and I have goosebumps. This book is in the top of my tbr right along 17 & Gone and I'm so glad that you loved it so much! I love tough, strong heroines and Angie sounds like someone I would admire. Beautiful review, Jenny!

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    1. Angie is unbelievable really, I would have broken down for sure, but she just keeps putting one foot in front of the other and moves forward. Loved her.

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  4. Wow! This sounds like a very stunning and powerful read. What happened with the main character, Angie, seems like a really awful thing but she looks like a very strong character too. I'm very curious to meet this girl. Beautiful review as always, Jenny! :)

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    1. It really was Eunice! I loved her strength and the fact that she was so willing to seek help in dealing with her memory loss. It would have been a frustrating read if she had kept everything to herself.

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    1. It's pretty awful what happens to her, but it never gets to be too dark where you just want to walk away and say "can't take it anymore".

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  6. I'm not sure if this is a story for me. I read Dead to You by Lisa McMann and I didn't enjoy myself at all. It was at times quite disturbing and I didn't connect with the main character at all. They're not exactly the same as I gather from the synopsis, but I do think they're somewhat similar. I appreciate the MC-s honesty and need to get conclusion in this story though and I'm glad the disturbing aspects of this story didn't bother you from enjoying the story. I don't really enjoy switching the perspectives from first person to third or second or any other variety for that matter so I truly think it'd be a waste of my time to read this book when I'm pretty sure I won't enjoy this one, but I'm forever glad you did and I hope everyone who picks this one up has at least half the great words to say about it as you did:) Lovely review nevertheless!

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    1. The perspectives don't switch often Siiri, so I don't think that aspect would bother you too much:) I'm not familiar with Dead to You, but this definitely isn't a book for everyone, though I do highly recommend it for anyone who likes challenging stories!

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  7. I have never heard of this book but I'm not sure if it's for me. I had no problems reading many "horror" YA books because mostly they weren't that scary. This one sounds like some horror movies that won't let me sleep at night and I really avoid that. I'm really glad you enjoyed it though. Great review Jenny :)

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    1. I think maybe I shouldn't have used the word horror in that first paragraph, I was more making a comparison to the fact that I read this one really on edge even though it's not scary. Not in a horror-film kind of way with blood and guts, even though what happens to her is horrifying. It's more a mystery as you try and piece together the time she lost, but the things you discover are upsetting, so it's something you kind of have to brace yourself for!

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  8. I haven't read much about this one, Jenny, but I really loved the cover and so added it to my wishlist. It sounds like the story is just as brilliant though. I also loved how you described the MC since she seems very resilient. I'll try to find a copy of this one soon and get around to reading it.

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    1. I really thought it was Z! I just wanted to swaddle Angie in cotton batting and never let anything else in her life touch her so she'd stay safe:)

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  9. I've seen this book around, but it has never truly caught my attention for me to want to grab a copy. Now your review has changed my mind. It does sound like it's a thrilling and a spine-tingling book and I have to say I could enjoy this one.
    Although I have to say that I'm a little worried about how the book switches to 2nd person writing from time to time. Regardless, I'll add this to my list of books to check out at the library.
    Lovely review, Jenny and I'm glad that you enjoyed it! :)

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    1. The 2nd person thing threw me off a little just because this is the first time I've come across it, but it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the story too much:) Hope you give it a try Nick!

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  10. Oh wow, I'm not sure if I could read this one through my fingers! It would definitely give me nightmares. I just read a bit on Amazon and it is really addictive right from the start. But yikes, to read what happened to her, I think you're a braver reader than me.

    Beautiful review! I especially liked how you said Angie's mind was "both infinitely strong and yet broken at the same time."

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    1. It was hard, but I sort of felt like I owed her to finish the story you know? If she could go through it, I could read it (especially since it's based on the Elizabeth Smart case).

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    2. I thought about her as I was reading your review. How can you not when you read about it?

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  11. This is definitely not the book for me (I am such a baby when it comes to scary books!), but I can see the appeal. I am really intrigued by the second person prologue and other portions that use 2nd person. Wow. That's unusual and I am sure it's very effective. Great review, Jenny!

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    1. I usually am too, but I swear this one's not so much scary as deeply troubling. What she goes through is awful, but she's so strong that you can't help but love her instantly:)

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  12. This sounds deliciously terrifying and just the sort of book I'd want to read.

    ...is that wrong? o.O

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    1. It's not wrong. I 100% get you. Bring on the deliciously terrifying books.

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  13. I read this one a while ago and I can agree with you on every fact! This book was seriously hard to read because how real Coley portrayed Angie's struggle and unsettling thoughts. It was strangely addicting to read about though, too. So glad you loved this one, Jenny! Brilliant review as always. :)

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    1. It was addicting wasn't it? I had to know everything little thing she went through even when they made me cringe. It was like a train wreck, but a brilliantly done one:)

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  14. ooh I want to read with my eyes partially covered..i love that. Am I confusing this with another book? Is this book one...hmm, I am adding it to my list..it sounds perfect for fall!

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    1. I believe this is a standalone, so it's the first and only book (I think). So good Kim!

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  15. Jenny, this book had me angry and in tears. What this girl goes through is crazy! So happy you enjoyed it.

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    1. RIGHT SAVY!!!! I wanted to punch something. Mostly the person that hurt her, but I likely would have just broken my fist and then I'd be in pain. So I just hurt them in my mind ;-)

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  16. I know exactly what you mean about challenging. These seem to be the kind of books that I admire if not always like. Glad you did like this one so well.

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    1. Yes. It's hard to say I "loved" this book given how dark it is. How can you really you loved witnessing someone else's pain? But it's so well done and I just adored Angie:)

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  17. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for this novel, so I was hesitant about picking it up, and I'm still not sure the subject matter is for me, but I'm curious about this now. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Jenny. Lovely review!(:

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    1. It's a difficult read for sure Keertana, and the subject matter is painful, but I just couldn't put this book down!

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  18. Stunning review! I have been wanting to read this since Lauren@Alice Marvels reviewed this. Psychological topics always intrigue me and this is one that sounds disturbing and fascinating at the same time.

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  19. I totally thought you were going to hate this book at first, but ah! You have made me curious despite the way it is described since I know it would be difficult for me especially on an emotional level. I can't believe you have me wanting to read something this upsetting. You have a way with words that makes me want this one right away. Well, it's on the wishlist now!

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  20. Ooooh, I really wanted to read this book and love that you loved it :D Mystery books are turning out to be really good now. Great review!

    Asma @ IceyBooks

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  21. I had a really hard time with this one and, sadly, did not enjoy it as much as you. I think I just felt too much for Angie and couldn't get past it. I'm just a tender, delicate flower.

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  22. I really haven't heard all that much about this one at all, but can I just mention how SICK I am of the font on the cover? I know, petty observation, but pleasssseee. That said, you had me at horror. I love books that terrify me - almost as much as I love movies that terrify me. It's sadistic. Great review, Jenny! :)

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  23. I'm not sure I could do this story. It's makes my stomach hurt just thinking about this poor girl and what she must have endured! It sounds like an amazing story, but I just don't know. I have a daughter and I would always be thinking about that. Brilliant review, Jenny! :)

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  24. Second person is rather strange to me--not sure if I would get used to it but it's worth a shot because I love contemporaries with a psychological angle.

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  25. I've had this book since January but haven't been able to fit it in. I think the intensity would stress me out but I think as fall sets in I'll be into those kinds of stories more. I'm very happy to hear that you enjoyed it so much!

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  26. I could not agree more with this review! I found this story tragic but beautiful,and I was completely riveted by Angie's journey to fill in those missing gaps. I'm so glad to hear you had a similar experience reading this. Lovely review Jenny!

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  27. I didn't realise that there was some second person narrative in this book, but that sounds like an interesting approach. Honestly, when I first came across this title a few months ago, I thought it would be a simple, fun contemporary novel. I guess I was quite wrong about that, but this definitely still sounds like something I'd be interested in. Great review, jenny!

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  28. Yikes! This book freaks me out. I'm impressed that you tackled it and that you liked it so much. The second person narrative is interesting. I actually just started ALL THE TRUTH THAT'S IN ME, and it starts in second person as well. It also features a girl who's gone through a trauma. Hopefully, it works out positively! I'm not sure PRETTY GIRL 13 is a book I would read, but I appreciate the thoughtful review.

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