Book recommendation: Pretty Girl-13, by Liz Coley

Sometimes, I read a book’s summary and I find myself intrigued.

Now, I don’t mean the usual “Huh, this sounds interesting” kind of intrigued that usually leads me to read a book. I’m referring more to the type of intrigued that’s a little harder to nail down–the type that makes a book stick in my mind and not leave me alone until I read it.

That’s the type of intrigued I felt when I read the summary for Pretty Girl-13, by Liz Coley. I came across the summary quite a while ago, and bought the novel itself within the past month or so. I didn’t have a chance to read it until last week, but it had been in the back of my mind ever since I had first come across it.

Here, let me sum up the summary: One moment, Angela Chapman is camping in the woods with her friends and the other girl scouts in her troop. The next, she’s walking down the street where she and her parents live. She has no idea how she got from one place to the other. And no idea that three years have passed between those two moments.

The reason this book intrigued me so much (and I promise, this’ll be the last time I use the word “intrigued” in this recommendation) is that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it. Was this going to be a mystery? A horror? It sounded like it could have a science fiction or fantasy tilt, and yet it was classified as a psychological thriller.

Once I started reading, it didn’t take long for the novel to answer my questions. We’re introduced to the main premise of the book fairly early–a premise that left stronger feelings in me than the summary had.

I’ll admit, I’m going to get a little vague from here on out. But that’s only because I don’t want to spoil anything for you. In a way, going into this novel blind to what it’s premise was is what caused it to have such a strong effect on me.

From the moment that premise was revealed, I was hooked. I had heard of the topic before, of course, but I had never read a book about it. I loved learning about the topic, and I loved that I was doing that through the character of Angela. It’s hard to imagine the feelings of a person who has lost three years of their life–and even harder to imagine the feelings of someone who’s going through the same situation as Angela is. But Coley did a wonderful job of bringing those feelings to life, and I felt that her portrayal of them was fairly realistic–or, at least, what I thought was realistic.

Goodreads summary

Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological thriller about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity and then piece together her own identity.

When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back–a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself. Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is hiding behind the terrible blankness? There are secrets you can’t even tell yourself.

With a tremendous amount of courage and support from unexpected friends, Angie embarks on a journey into the darkest corners of her mind. 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 people responsible, or is there another way to feel whole again?

Liz Coley’s alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing—and ultimately empowering—page turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.

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