Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by Harper Collins Publishers on January 24, 2017
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, young adult
Format & Length: e-book, 245
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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 church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.
Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.
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 must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?
In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.
A young adult contemporary about 16 year old Mary who allegedly killed a baby several years ago and now needs to set the story straight, Allegedly is an intense and emotional book that had me turning the pages compulsively.
This book started off strong from the very first page, pulling me in quickly. It’s mostly told from Mary’s perspective, with excerpts from books or transcripts every so often to help round it out and show a larger picture. The plot follows several months in Mary’s story when she is in a group home for girls after leaving jail as she yearns for freedom and a better life. The writing is straightforward and reads realistically, adding to the emotional punches that hit you right where it hurts. And the pacing is on point, moving along easily without feeling rushed.
My favorite part of Allegedly, though, is the characters. Each of them are complex, flawed, and intriguing. Even though Mary allegedly killed a baby, my heart went out to her for the tough blows that are dealt her way. It seemed that for every step forward she tried to take, she was sent two steps back. But she isn’t the only character that feels real in this story. The cast is full of a range of personalities that are fully developed and lifelike.
If I had rated this after completing everything except the last chapter, I would have given it a full five out of five. Unfortunately, the ending didn’t quite work for me. On the one hand, part of me can understand why the author made the particular choice she did to add one last thrill. But on the other hand, that turn of events felt like it lessened the importance and impact of many aspects of the story. And this does deal with a lot of tough subjects from injustice to abuse and so much more.
The last chapter of Allegedly was enough for me to take the rating down a notch, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think this is worth a read. Well written and compelling, it’s hard to believe this is the author’s debut. Recommended for anyone who can stomach reading about cruelty and abuse.