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Allegedly Hardcover – January 24, 2017
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From the Publisher
Meet the Author
Tiffany D. Jackson
Tiffany D. Jackson is a TV professional by day, novelist by night, awkward black girl 24/7. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Film from Howard University and her Master of Arts in Media Studies from The New School University. You can visit her online at her website.
Allegedly has 4 Starred Reviews!
'Suspenseful' - School Library Journal.
'Searing and true.' - Kirkus Reviews.
'Absorbing and exceptional' - Publishers Weekly.
'Tightly spun' - Booklist.
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Jackson delivers a requiem about systemic issues of injustice in this debut novel that portrays the juvenile justice system, meant to rehabilitate youth who have gone astray, and the social service system, which is intended to defend those whose rights have been infringed upon. Interwoven with case study excerpts, depositions, and inmate interviews, this gripping thriller centers on 16-year-old Mary Beth Addison, who was incarcerated for the alleged murder of a three-month-old infant. Not all of the clues point to then nine-year-old Mary's guilt, though. Now Mary is in a group home with hopes of moving into the world and maybe even to college. But she's been unable to get her birth certificate from her mother, and she needs the document to take her SATs. She's also just learned that she's pregnant, which threatens to turn her macabre existence into a permanent nightmare. Because Mary is underage and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Ted, is also in a group facility, their child will be put up for adoption after Mary gives birth, but Mary will go to any length to prevent that from happening. With remarkable skill, Jackson offers an unflinching portrayal of the raw social outcomes when youth are entrapped in a vicious cycle of nonparenting and are sent spiraling down the prison-for-profit pipeline. VERDICT This dark, suspenseful exploration of justice and perception raises important questions teens will want to discuss. An excellent selection for YA shelves.—Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA
★ “With remarkable skill, Jackson offers an unflinching portrayal of the raw social outcomes when youth are entrapped in a vicious cycle of nonparenting and are sent spiraling down the prison-for-profit pipeline. This dark, suspenseful exploration of justice and perception raises important questions teens will want to discuss.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
★ “Searing and true. Effectively joins Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow (2010) to become another indictment of the penal system’s decimating power beyond its bars and, more subtly and refreshingly, a pro-reproductive-justice novel.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
★ “The characters are complex, the situation unsettling, and the line between right and wrong hopelessly blurred. It’s also intensely relevant, addressing race, age, and mental illness within the criminal justice system. Well conceived and executed, this is an absorbing and exceptional first novel.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
★ “Suspenseful without being emotionally manipulative, compelling without resorting to shock value, this is a tightly spun debut that wrestles with many intense ideas and ends with a knife twist that will send readers racing back to the beginning again.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Seen through Jackson’s dark portrait of the legal system and the failures of parents and social workers, Mary’s environments are as grim as the stories that play out in them; readers fascinated by procedural dramas will be thoroughly hooked.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
“I have to admit, it’s been a while since I’ve been this rattled by a story. Tiffany D. Jackson chips at the world, then cracks it, then shatters it into shards of discomfort and complexity for the reader to grapple with it. Allegedly, undoubtedly, will linger long after it’s over.” (Jason Reynolds, award-winning author of All American Boys and The Boy in the Black Suit)
“A well-executed, powerful journey into the claustrophobic life of a young girl trying to navigate what little is left after the world has judged her, and what she will do to escape it.” (Mindy McGinnis, Edgar Award-winning author of A Madness So Discreet)
“A riveting, gut-wrenching thriller and a stunning debut.” (Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of Shadowshaper)
“Tiffany Jackson’s timely and chilling debut will haunt you for a long time. An extraordinary new voice.” (Justine Larbalestier, author of Liar and My Sister Rosa)
Top customer reviews
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Mary Addison murdered a baby when she was 9 years old, allegedly. She has moved from "baby prison" (solitary confinement) to juvie to a halfway house where she is allowed to leave under supervision. Her fellow prisoners torture her regularly, from simply throwing her stuff on the floor to much worse things later in the book. Mary has been in the prison system so long, she is numb to most of it.
The worst part is everyone knows her story. Her story has been written about in a ton of books and it looks like it will be made into a movie. In a place where people assume, knowing your crime is a different story.
Mary gets visited by her mother regularly on Sunday, where her mother stays for about 15 minutes to talk about her new life. Mary also works at an elderly home, where she has met Ted, an 18 year old who has gotten 16 year old Mary pregnant. Mary has also gotten a new roommate who is working through the justice system with an independent group who helps those who have received injustice get justice. The connection to that is Mary has started to remember things about that night when she allegedly murdered a baby that don't seem to add up.
I'll begin my review portion by stating, this is not a light book to read. For those who have triggers, there is abuse, statutory rape, torturous conditions, and of course the murder of an infant which gets described in great detail several times. The funny thing is this is marketed as a book for teens. My guess is because the protagonist is a teen, but this is NOT a teen book, maybe a young adult, but definitely not for early teens.
I am also going to go a tiny bit negative. There were three things that bothered me about this book. The first was the length. At about 400 pages, it becomes a bit too long. The second was the Ted story, as it was a bit clichéd. As soon as Ted is introduced, you know he is going to get her pregnant and you know he is going to be something else (I won't spoil, but you learn pretty quickly what that something else is). Finally, the ending. I have talked to a few people online who also disliked the ending. You journey through 390 pages or so and the last few pages simply ruin the book. I am not going to spoil, but just be prepared.
Now for the positives, as there were more than negatives. Mary's story about that night unfolds wonderfully. You get glimpses here and there, but you don't get the whole story until you need to. Her relationship with her mother is well described and thought out. It would be a tense relationship between them. It is also an incredible look at the injustice found within the justice system. How can someone prove her innocence when the whole world knows her story? She was 9 when the crime happened, it is now 7 years later and she has no hope of getting justice.
Overall, I sort of enjoyed this one. It was a good story, but it is brutal in places, so how could one enjoy brutality? I gave this one 3.5 stars.
Cons: a little lengthy, a few stereotypes, and I didn't like the ending.
This story had me hooked from beginning to end. The story delves into the complexity of why a nine-year-old would murder a baby (Allegedly). Is she a psychopath? Is her mother the real murderer?
The author tells us to the result of the horrible murder but leaves out enough details to where we look for insights into the truth of the crime in page after page. Was Mary responsible or her mother or both?
The story begins after Mary spends six years in 'baby jail' and is out on parole in a group home filled with angry, depressed teenage girls who have their own complex problems. It's an unsafe place with poorly trained staff. Throughout the entire novel, the staff is portrayed as uncaring, inept, or both which seemed stereotypical.
The author 'gets' the dialogue and attitude of the girls, the psychological relationship between a dysfunctional mother and daughter, and the systematic 'processing' of children/teens in the criminal justice system of New York. The victim's parents life is explored (after the crime) and I was glad to see this mentioned in the novel.
After Mary meets eighteen-year-old Ted-a young man with problems and obstacles of his own, they begin a romantic relationship with all the fantasy of what could be if it wasn't for the woundedness they both bring.
In spite of tremendous obstacles, Mary is intelligent and pursues her SAT so she can get into college. When she becomes pregnant she realizes the state will take her baby and devises a plan to get out of the group home. This prompts Mary, to tell the truth of the crime. But is it the truth?