Pretty Girl-13 - Liz Coley

tl;dr | ✭✭✭✭✭ | So, I started this book as an audiobook (do not recommend), and I was drawn in by the psychology behind the book. I can't lie, I was worried. Graduating with a bachelors degree in psychology, I get really annoyed with psychology things are poorly written/handled (ahemlucymovieahem), but this book was so well done. The psychology was well done, the story was sad, engaging, deep, and well written. I loved this book. This review will contain spoilers. Continue on at your own risk.

Description (from Goodreads) 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?

OH boy. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. I haven't read a good fictional book featuring some real psychological issues in.... a really long time. I honestly cannot think of the last one I read that dealt with some hardcore psychological topics. And this book did that, and it did that well. 


So. This book. Angie gets kidnapped from a girl scout camping trip when she is 13, and returns home 3 years later with absolutely no recollection of the past 3 years. So of course, everyone assumes its traumatic amnesia. This actually kind of annoyed me at first, the fact that the detective was so willing to call it that immediately when he isn't in the mental health profession. But he's oh so wrong


It turns out she has dissociative identity disorder (DID), and oh boy. When the author went there, I felt both a trill of excitement and a trill of dread. Excitement, because if it is done right it would be extremely interesting. Dread, because its so often misunderstood and could so easily be done poorly. But I was not disappointed. THANK YOU LIZ COLEY! I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED! Hurrah! 


For those of you who haven't read this book (and are still reading on despite the spoiler warning) and may not know, dissociative identity disorder is a case in which the mind creates different personalities, known as alters, which come out at different times to best protect the person. These alters can be different ages, races, and genders. They are completely separate personalities, many times with little to no knowledge of the other alters that can come out in a given situation. They typically have different styles, hand writing, speech patterns. They are, for all intents and purposes, completely different people within a single person. It takes some extremely dark and vicious actions to cause the mind to fracture into alters as a way to cope and give protection. Knowing this, I was very intrigued to read on and learn how these alters were created in Angie. And I was gasping and almost crying while reading this book on the bus. Even though it wasn't difficult to tell what was going to happen next, or where the story was going, I was still shocked and disgusted by the things that happened to Angie. 


Gosh. Anyways. I won't get more into it, because I don't want to give everything away (you need to read it!). Just know, it was very interesting. It was dark. And it was well done. I was captivated the whole way through. This is a book you need to actually read though, and not listen to on audiobook. I started it on audiobook and it wasn't as captivating, nor was it translated well. There are moments when the alters speak, or we get a glimpse from a different perspective, and those moments don't translate as well when read aloud as they do when you read them. So read it. Seriously, it was so good. 

I will say, however, that this book will be very triggering for some. So please, be careful.