I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by HarperCollins on January 24th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Violence, Family, Orphans & Foster Homes, Alternative Family
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Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home.
Mary B. Addison killed a baby.
Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?
There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson is such an interesting, complex read. I fear it’s one that might get missed in the hype for other books. I probably would not have gotten to it or prioritized it like I did had it not come in the mail. Seriously though, Allegedly is a book with themes that are relevant to people today. It is sure to have you turning pages just as quickly as I did — especially to get to the big reveals and the ending! For real, that ending, I have to talk some spoilers at the end of this review because I am actually still scratching my head over it.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson has a plot that could pretty much be ripped from an episode of Law & Order: SVU or headlines. Mary Addison allegedly killed a white baby named Alyssa when she was eight years old. You see, Mary and her mother were babysitting Alyssa. All we really know is that Mary did not mean for it to happen. Due to a confluence of race, socioeconomic status, and media sensationalism, Mary is sentenced for the crime and sent to jail. In a jail for adults, she is confined to an isolation cell.
When the story opens up, at present day Mary is fifteen and she’s living in a group home wearing an ankle bracelet. Mary volunteers at the senior center, where she meets Ted, a boy from another group home. Ted impregnates her and so, the story begins really with Mary wanting to keep her baby while everyone else wants her to give the baby up for adoption. Now, Mary knows it is time for the truth about just what happened with Alyssa to come out.
Mary is such a complex character. So, she’s Black which adds in a factor because you know it colors how she’s perceived by the media and how these different excerpts in the book portray her. Mary is selectively mute, so she doesn’t talk at all ever. The other girls in the group home call her a psycho because of this. Mary is incredibly gifted though, and she’s determined to have a better life. Her goal aside from keeping the baby is taking the SATs and eventually going to college. Yet, there’s so much adversity in her life. There’s people around every corner telling her no, she can’t do this. Actually come to think of it, aside from intelligence, I would say that once Mary has this goal in mind of going to school, she’s resilient.
Allegedly does take on themes of racism and the justice system. So, as you know, the plot centers around Mary, a Black girl, allegedly murdering a white baby girl. I don’t know if you just woke up yesterday or what, but in America, there’s a whole lot of racism that would impact the trial. Further, justice is not color blind. Mary doesn’t exactly get a fair shake of it. It would seem that the mind of the public and the jury is already made up before the end of the trial. Plus, it just isn’t fully and fairly investigated.
Furthermore, the story also delves into what happens after the trial, I mean, it mostly takes place after it’s all said and done. We see that at every turn the system fails Mary. There doesn’t really seem to be anyone who cares about her — not her parole officer, not her social worker, not her therapist, not the group home staff. No one. I think that’s all too common with the system today, and I say that as someone who has worked within human services and the system — not quite the system but kind of a part of it.
Tiffany D. Jackson is definitely an author to place on your must read list. Her debut is superb. I guarantee you won’t be able to stop at one chapter or in the middle of the chapter. You’ll look up and like fifty pages will have gone by like a fever dream. Plus, you get to the end and you’ll be questioning everything you just read. I guess I promised I would go into spoilers at the top, but I am actually going to remain vague. By the time I finished up the book, I wasn’t sure what I had just read with the ending. In fact, I had to go on Twitter to find someone to discuss the ending with because I had to confirm I read it correctly. Just, wow, get your hands on Allegedly by Tiffany D Jackson if you want a read that’s going to keep on challenging your assumptions.
Other reviews of Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson:
- There aren’t any up yet as of 1/15/17 that I want to link to.