Tiffany D. Jackson
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Publication date: Jan 24th, 2017
by Katherine Tegen Books
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 copy was provided by Katherine Tegen Books for review-
Holy shit. THIS BOOK GUYS. Allegedly was one of my most anticipated books, but my co-worker who read it before I had a lot of FEELS (not good or bad, just FEELS), so I was a little nervous when I dove in. I had no idea the book would grip me and NOT LET ME GO. I read the 373 page book in a little over 2.5 hours. I GOBBLED IT, all while growing more and more anxious as I could feel something B.I.G. coming.
This book treads all the fine lines ever. There is no easy black and white in this book and it goes to lengths to make sure YOU KNOW THAT TOO. Justice, family, life cannot be put into little boxes and Jackson really explores what is right and wrong in this book. Is justice so easily served? Why is it that we as a society are always trying to figure out the one truth, are always trying to figure out the right and wrong while never focusing on the gray regions. What makes someone innocent? Who do we believe? Whose narrative is actually worth believing?
Mary B. Addison killed a baby.
And yet we the readers have to really figure out the puzzle that is Mary B. Addison. I learned and unlearned a lot as I was reading a book and it was quite the emotional journey.
Allegedly is a confusing book because we only see things through Mary who we don’t even know we can for sure trust. Mary, who has experienced the world in ways none of us probably have and would have had to toughen up even if she wasn’t already tough.
Through bits and pieces, through flashbacks and testimonies, we learn more and more about what the real Mary might be like, the one that lies beneath the one she presents as. Mary is a complex, almost four dimensional character, and pops out through the pages. She forces you to pay attention to her and Jackson does an amazing job in crafting her character.
I do have two major criticisms of the novel though. My first being that I wish the secondary characters were better. I wish they weren’t as two dimensional. I wish they had more depth to them so I could see the contrasts between Mary and them. That isn’t to say Allegedly doesn’t have some great secondary characters but I wish there was more depth to the other girls in the group home. I wish we got to see more of Mary’s interactions with them (whether they were good or bad.) I just wanted to see MORE.
My other criticism is things I WILL NOT TALK ABOUT because spoilers but hopefully, other people might not be as frustrated as I was. I do want to be vague for a second and see that I can see what the author was trying to do with that one thing but I feel like it could have been executed in a way that would have allowed her to still do that thing but also wouldn’t have felt so rushed.
There is such wonderful tension throughout this book though and it really speaks to Jackson’s talent. I was on the edge the entire time I was reading the book, waiting to see how it would played out.
So would I recommend the book? I’ll say the same thing I said to a friend who asked. If you enjoy books that fuck with your brain, this is it. If you like complex books that push you to think deeper about the values you hold, about whats right and wrong, this is it. So basically, read the flippin book and then HMU because I still have a lot of feels that I NEED TO TALK ABOUT.
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