Friday, March 08, 2013

Review: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Pretty Girl-13
Liz Coley
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication date: March 19th 2013
by Katherine Tegen Books

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do—people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
This is the perfect example of a book you should go into completely blind. I did not read the synopsis beforehand (I think I may have months ago but I couldn't recall anything), nor did I even know the genre. I went in with zero expectation, and came out of it baffled by how it blew me out of the water!

Since I think everyone should do like me and go in without a clue, I will not ruin the moment for you either. But I can safely tell you the very basics without changing your reading experience: Angie went missing, then she comes back suddenly, and with absolutely zero memory of the past three years of her life. Three years that, to her, has never passed. Thus she finds herself still in her 13 year old mind, but with a 16 year old body. This, to me, was unbelievable. Leaving me turning the pages frantically to try and get a grip of what exactly has happened to her, WAS happening to her. There are events at the beginning that leave your mind stunned; fascinated, mostly. But soon enough you begin to understand what she's going through, and it opens up a whole new world of intrigue and wonder.

The story is raw and gritty, it left me both horrified and in a puddle of my own emotions. Upon turning the last page, all I wanted to do was burst into tears. As the story progresses, we learn exactly what happened to Angie, slowly, piece by shocking piece, until everything fits together at the end. This wonderful, strong, and brave soul really grabbed at my heart. I loved the protagonist and I adored her friends. I do have one qualm with the latter, though: When her friends see her--their missing and presumed dead friend--for the first time after three years, I was not convinced by their reaction. It was underwhelming. I'm also not sure about how the media could have been kept away for so long, or how easy it was for her to re-emerge herself into society without any chinks, not to mention her recovery's progression. These are all easily forgivable in hindsight, though, being a YA novel. Yes the story could afford to be tighter and stronger, had it been more thoroughly dissected, in psychological terms especially--it would have also needed to be longer to achieve this--but the book progresses rather quickly and into a direction that essentially makes these qualms inconsequential to get to the heart of what this story wants to be.

For a review on this novel, my plan is to keep it short and to the point and I think that's been achieved. We get into very hard topics, told in an amazingly effective way; intense, piercing, and all-consuming. Now, look away. Look. Away! And just read it!

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