Book Review: Pritty Girl 13 by Liz Coley

I just finished rereading a very well written young adult novel about trauma and survival. It is the only book I’ve seen for a young adult audience dealing with the subject of dissociative identity disorder DID.

Imagine being 13 years old and going on a typical girl scout camping trip. The next thing you remember you’re standing in the middle of your neighborhood with no memory of how you got there. You walk in your house as if it’s a normal day. Your parents burst into tears as if you’ve come back from the dead, and you learn 3 years has gone by!

This is the imposible sounding situation Angela is faced with. Angie can remember the first night of her camp out very vividly. Going into the woods the next day to use the restroom and having picked some berries. And then ending up back home. That was it.

The polece detective is very eager to get answers from her. But she honestly doesn’t have any. The first clue is an odd ring with the inscription “to my little wife.”

She also has severe scarring on her wrists and ankles. And internal pelvic damage.

She has many periods even before meeting with the psychologist for the first time, of blacking out/ not remembering things. She is incredibly frustrated by how emotional her parents are, how they keep saying she’s sixteen and how her Dad can’t even bring himself to look at her.

Dr. Lynn Grant is very warm and friendly and knowledgable. She builds a good relationship with Angie from the start and validates her feelings of total confusion and overwhelm. She starts by using hypnosis which easily causes Angie to dissociate. In that first session Dr. Grant meets Girl Scout the first of five alters. Girl Scout is the alter that handled all things domestic related in her capativity. She made this psycho man’s days better by providing for him by cooking cleaning the house ETC. He said he wanted a girl scout as a wife and she filled that role. She mentioned the several other alters at that first session but they didn’t appear then.

Angie is more confused than ever and at first tries to deny the alters existence. But as the days go by and she finds herself dressed in mismatched outfits that reflect the alters taste, things moved around the room ETC. She knows she can’t deny their existence anymore.

She learns most about her alters through letters and in one case a tape recorded message. She is both frustrated about their existence and also feels compassion for them and what they did to protect her. In addition to Girl Scout, there’s Little Wife, (the sexual alter,) Angel an extremely protective alter capable of violence in his quest for justice, Tattletale a child alter, the Lonely One who held the darkest secret, and an unnamed gate keeper.

Angie as a teenager is extremely impatient. She does not feel she can handle a drawn out therapy process especially as it’s costing her parents a lot of money. Dr. Grant brings up a totally fictional brain based procedure where using an MRI, the specific neurons of each alter are maped out. Then specific genes are inserted and two weeks later a lazer is used to kill those specific neurons. It sounds very scary and was to the whole system. But to Angie who at that point didn’t realize the true significance of what the alters went through and who wanted this over with, it felt like the best option.

At the same time that two of her alters go through this procedure, she starts to realize the value of them and the alters in general. She is given some frightening body memories in a couple cases and in general starts to appreciate the creative mechanism of dissociation for saving her mentally from the horrific experiences.

Because of this she decides to integrate the remaining alters. Through this process she notices different aspects of each one reflected in her personality. S She gains Girl Scout’s knowledge of cooking, and Tattletale’s love for horseback riding. She comes out a more whole person through these experience.

I highly recommend this book. It’s available on audible as well as kindle. I find it stands out as previously stated as the only young adult novel about DID. From my experiences with friends with DID the book is very true to the disorder. With the huge exception of the delation procedure. Just reading about this totally fictional process of delating alters as if they’ve never been there might be the most triggering part of the book for survivors and those that know and love their systems. I truly believe, and feel Angie understands too late, that her personality would have been richer if she had chosen to work with and integrate both Little Wife and Angel. Though these alters had very difficult aspects to them, that seemed so harmful or unpleasant as to rather just be removed, their strengths and knowing she could face them would have brought more to her life.

This book also covers in detail scenes of physical and sexual abuse. Readers should be mindfull of this. However I still highly recommend the book and am very interested about how those with DID or trauma survivors feel about it.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Pritty Girl 13 by Liz Coley

  1. This book is also available on bookshare. I read it from audible when it was in our dropbox folder and agree that it represents many of the aspects of did well. In some ways the book reminded me of another fictional book by Mary Higgins Clark called All Around the Town in which a college girl discovers that she has been kidnapped and sexually abused for three years. So that part of the story is not an original idea. All around the Town is I think also available on bookshare and I know it’s on Bard. I did not like the fictional technique portrayed in the book since people might think it’s real like the rest of the stuff about did was and we don’t need more lack of education on the subject. I think the message is good that the alters are valuable and helpful and worthy of love and not deletion but I think it could have been done another way. I didn’t like that both books assumed that integration was the only way to deal with did. So while I enjoyed the book and think it did some things well I’m not sure that I could unreservedly recommend it.

    • Hey. I forgot you’d read that book. I vaguely remember hearing about all around the town. Will ask on the media list about it or some other way to get it. I’m sure there are probably more books and movies based on this situation that we don’t know about. Yes I hated the deleting procedure too. The author says that a friend of hers who’s multiple helped her get info for the DID stuff along with other sources. I wonder how she felt about that part? At some point Dr. Grant does mention living cooperatively without intigration as an option which Angie pushes aside so quickly it’s barely mentioned as her only interest was making them go away. To even admit that she wanted the last two alters a part of her was a big step. I wish the book would have shown the long term work needed for intigration or any kind of theraputic work to take place. I would recommend the book with a warning about the fictional part.

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