Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson is a gritty, intense and at times, shocking read.
This book tells the story of Mary B. Addison, a young Black girl who allegedly killed a white baby when she was nine years old.
Mary is now 16, pregnant and living in a group home after years in ‘baby jail’. She is fighting to clear her name in a desperate attempt to keep her baby. As an ex-convict and notorious ‘child murderer’, her chances are slim. So, she must act quickly.
We soon learn about Mary’s disturbing past and the heart-breaking abuse she faced in childhood.
It’s evident that Mary has been betrayed by many who were meant to protect her. Most importantly, her mother. Their relationship dynamic is harrowing, detailed in brief 15-minute encounters and via Mary’s own narrative and reflection.
Fighting for her future
Mary’s always seemingly kept it together, silently tormented. However, as Mary’s baby grows within, cracks begin to show. Her years of pent-up emotion start to unravel in her desperation. Her hormones work against her. You feel her pain first-hand, often sympathising with her actions.
In addition to Mary’s perspective, snippets embellish the story. We read police interviews, witness statements, character references and book excerpts. These broaden the story but often go against what we know about Mary. A gifted young woman who may or may not have done the unthinkable.
Mary is complex and determined to succeed and her attempt to change the horrific narrative is almost admirable. The characters she engages with have depth. Sympathising with Mary’s judgement of them throughout, you are often left happy or frustrated by her experiences with others.
Allegedly is a disturbing and emotional read with themes of child murder, abuse, racism and mental health. Saying this, it’s an important one. It touches on heavy subjects without being afraid of its target audience as a young adult novel.
I personally have read Allegedly. However, this post does contain affiliate links.