Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pretty Girl - 13, by Liz Coley

Three years after she was abducted during a campout, Angela suddenly reappears at her home.  At first, she cannot recall anything that has occurred during her absence.  However, with the help of hypnosis and the support of a psychologist, she slowly reassembles what happened while she was gone.

To protect herself from the trauma of her abduction and long periods of captivity, she has developed a series of "alters" (other personalities) that inhabit her body and shield her.  Putting these pieces of herself back together becomes crucial for the healing and rebuilding her life, but involves unraveling the horrors of those three lost years.

An extremely emotionally intense to read, but also quite compelling.  Given the ickiness of the premise, it’s a bit weird to say that I “enjoyed” the book, but I did find it hard to put down.  Angela's suffering is immense and her capacity to survive it makes her a strong heroine.  This is amplified by Coley's complex portrayal of her and her psyche.  Despite these strengths, some of the other characters (the parents and the counselor, in particular) can be a bit two dimensional. 
Do be forewarned that this isn’t a book for sensitive readers.  Coley avoids getting too graphic, but the events portrayed are quite gruesome.  This is definitely nightmare-inducing material.

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