Pretty Girl 13 by Liz Coley is a haunting tale, indeed.
Angie was taken at the age of 13 while on a Girl Scout camping trip. Three years later she finds herself walking home with no recollection of what happened. In her head, she’s still 13 and is just returning home from said camping trip.
Through therapy, it is discovered that in order to cope with her situation, Angie’s brain has created alternate personalities to individually deal with certain situations—her physiologist refers to them as “Alters.” The insane part is, Angie has no idea who these alternate personalities are or how to control them. Certain situations and triggers cause one of her Alters to take over. When this happens, Angie basically blacks out and loses periods of time, having no memory of what went on when an Alter “took the wheel.”
Through hypnosis, her therapist helps draw each Alter out in turn to hear their story, unraveling the mysteries in Angie’s past. The ultimate goal is figuring out how to essentially make Angie whole again.
This sounds stressful enough to deal with, but on top of the whole “Alter” fiasco, Angie must try to rebuild her life again—a difficult enough task for any kidnapped victim, but doubly so for a sixteen-year-old still stuck inside of a thirteen-year-old’s head.
Assimilating back into to school proves to be a special challenge, taking classes several years lower than her peers, and having any given Alter take control without warning, causing Angie to do things she wouldn’t normally do and can’t remember afterward. The actions of one particular Alter even causes Angie to become the target of school bullying. This poor girl cannot seem to catch a break.
But Angie is strong. She is a survivor. One step and one day at a time, she slowly but surely begins to take back control of her own life. Angie is a literary heroine to be admired and applauded. I give this valiant tale five stars!
*warning, some of the descriptions from her time in captivity are pretty graphic and a little hard to stomach.
“She noticed that she’s automatically used the past tense, like she was getting a sense of time—a then and a now. She didn’t feel thirteen anymore. She felt—undefined. “