Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 24th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: the publisher
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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.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
My mother is the true crime type and I’ve grown up watching her read books and more recently watch shows about murders. Over time I’ve become a little addicted to them, especially The First 48. Somewhere along the way there have been a couple highlighting children in prison for murder. I think my overall fascination was intensified by these specific shows because I am a teacher and spend my days with not just my daughter, but 42 other kids. The cover of Allegedly caught my attention, but the description is what had me chomping at the bit waiting to read it.
Mary Addison is 16 year old black female. At age 9 she was accused of murdering a 3 month old white baby while she and her mother were babysitting her. After spending years in “baby jail” where she spent most of her time in confinement because the facility didn’t know what to do with her, she has been moved into a group home with other teenage delinquents. Her social skills make her appear as if she isn’t very bright when in reality she is highly intelligent. She rarely speaks and at times is a target for the other girls in the home. Her one reprieve is her volunteer job at a nursing home where she met her boyfriend, Ted, who is also a teenager in a group home.
After experiencing nausea and a late period, Mary finds out that she’s expecting a baby. She quickly realizes that because of her charges from the age of 9 her baby will be taken away from her immediately. After 7 years she finally speaks out about the events that took place the night of the murder. The new girl in the group home brings her to the office of an attorney, Ms. Cora, who coincidentally had followed and doubted Mary’s involvement in the murder for years prior to this. She finally tells the story from beginning to end and an appeal is made.
Along the way she faces several road bumps, but I was always rooting her on, wanting the best for her. While some of the writing was repetitive, I attributed that to the voice of Mary and not so much a lack of writing ability of the author. One part of the story that was eye opening and enlightening was her experience in the state foster system and the fears she had when it came to turning 18 and where she would go from there. It’s sad to consider somebody with no family and no support needing to find their way in this complicated life of adulthood.
Without any spoilers, all I can say is that even if it seems predictable at times, I was surprised by how things ended. I don’t know if a full sequel would be good, but a definite epilogue would be interesting to read to see how everything eventually turned out!