Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Goodreads / Amazon
Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.
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?
If you've read my blog enough you probably know I enjoy reading dark and disturbing contemporary. And I like reading memoirs of victims as well, though I admit they are extremely hard to swallow, even for me. I also read and loved Sybil, which has a lot to do with this story. Very few books in the modern YA realm deal with hard-core kidnapping cases, and this is the first one I've encountered that deals with multiple personality or how it's called now, dissociative identity disorder (link to wiki).
This is a brave author. To attempt to write this level of terrible horrors in a book that portrays mental disorder for teenagers was very ambitious. As soon as I read the summary I knew I needed to read this one. Honestly, I thought the book was fascinating and interesting to say the least. I enjoyed every minute of it and I think readers who have never encountered dissociative identity disorder before will find it mesmerizing. It is truly an interesting subject.
One of my favorite things about the book is the POV the author chose to use. The story is told from the voice of one of Angie's identities, not by her. That made the book that much more captivating. Nonetheless, the kidnapping background was as dark as it can be. And I don't think it was dealt with the seriousness it portrayed. The level of trauma this character should have been facing was way beyond the one that was portrayed. This book should have been a lot darker and disturbing than it is. It may have been dumbed down a bit, just like the DID treatment was hurried--on purpose. But the ending was just too much. That particular sub-plot we could have lived without. That kind of life-changing decisions should not ever be taken that lightly.
Either way, it's a very good introduction to this particular mental disorder and it is definitely a gripping story that many dark-contemporary readers will enjoy. Adult readers will pin-point these faults, but I forgive the author because I applaud her for her research and bravery.
Audiobook note: I was absolutely glued to this audio and was utterly hard when I had to stop listening. The audiobook narrator does a truly excellent job!