Title: Pretty Girl-13
Author: Liz Coley
I’m not sure what I expected with Pretty Girl-13, but it definitely wasn’t the book I got. It’s a young adult novel, but it handles some incredibly tough subject matter and it handles it well.
Angie was 13 when she vanished. Three years later, she shows up at her house with no memory at all of how she got there or where she has been for the past years of her life. No one in her family, herself included, knows how to deal with what has happened. Angie still feels 13. Her mother just wants her to get back to a normal life. Her father just wants to protect her from everything, since he feels like he failed to do so three years ago. Angie goes to a forensic psychologist who helps Angie piece together her life, both in the present and in the past.
Angie is an amazingly strong character. Her feelings and emotions felt real. She was frustrated, sad, happy, angry…everything she should feel with being thrust into a life she doesn’t understand. She’s facing a new home life, going back to school, and trying to figure out what happened to her at the same time. The moments when she breaks down and admits the truth, to herself and to her psychologist, are the moments I liked her most. She didn’t try to hide from the truth once she was ready to face it.
There are a few secondary characters that I loved. Kate was there for Angie when she needed a friend most. Kate is the school outcast, but she and Angie pick their friendship up, almost as if the three years hadn’t passed. Of course, their friendship is different than that of two 13 year olds, but they are there for each other whenever needed. There wasn’t awkwardness between them, things left unsaid, and it was refreshing.
My heart was in my throat as I read this novel. I knew Angie’s missing three years wouldn’t be easy to handle, but as each little piece was revealed, my heart was crushed a little bit more. The last twist at the end could go either way, too much drama or just right, but I thought it fit. It might have been a little too coincidental, but I didn’t mind. I was happy that Angie had found peace with what had happened to her and how it would affect her life going forward.
Pretty Girl-13 is not a lighthearted read. It takes on a horrible subject matter and doesn’t mince words. But there’s still light within the novel. Even as everything horrible is revealed, Angie manages to stand strong and fight her way to the truth. It’s a tough novel to read, but well worth it.