Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer's Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home. 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 churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? 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's fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?
- ISBN10 0062422642
- ISBN13 9780062422644
- Publish Date 23 February 2017 (first published 24 January 2017)
- Publish Status Active
- Out of Print 24 May 2021
- Publish Country US
- Imprint Katherine Tegen Books
- Format Hardcover
- Pages 400
- Language English
First of all, it’s really well-done. Allegedly is a debut, but it’s well-written and well-researched, enough to feel like it was was created by a seasoned author. The language flows and adjusts itself well to different situations and speakers. Additionally, the narrator (Bahni Turpin) is fantastic – she also read Children of Blood and Bone and did a great job with that as well? I feel pretty confident recommending her as a narrator.
Tiffany D. Jackson really makes you fall for her characters. Mary Addison is a timid, quiet girl. The only times she causes trouble is when she needs something – a distraction, for example. She was convicted as a little girl for killing a baby, and Allegedly deals with her appeals and the reason why she decides to appeal in the first place. There are, of course, twists and turns along the way that pull you deeper and deeper into the grip of the novel. Jackson excels at false leads and unreliable characters. Because the characters are typically what makes me fall for a book in the first place, I can’t tell you how exasperating I find it to grow to trust a character… then be betrayed.
Exasperated in a good way, mind you. I was totally sold on every moment of this book. Allegedly betrays the reader’s trust time and again. As I mentioned, I’m still not sure if the final twist is the truth or a lie. I can’t stop thinking about it.
Beyond the fictional aspects of storytelling, there are important topics to be discussed here. For one, there’s the story of a young black girl who killed a white baby. Aspects of race play strongly in the way people perceive Mary, as well as the way she was sentenced. There’s conversations about mental health, child abuse, teenage pregnancy, and the poor state of many group homes. There’s also mention of spousal abuse, attempted rape, and of course the headline, infant homicide. Allegedly is not for the faint of heart. But it’s very well-written and in many ways, heartbreaking. And infuriating. I have a lot of feelings about it.
The only place this would lose a few points for me is in the pacing. The first 30% is a bit slow. It picks up after the halfway point, once the plot starts to unroll, but a little bit of perserverence is required at the beginning. It’s worth it, though. I promise. As a whole this is an under-rated, under-read book and deserves some attention. If you’re looking for an intriguing, meaningful realistic fiction read, I urge you to give Allegedly a try.
15. An “own voices” book
But I can’t be a fly, not today. I have to prepare. Be on high alert and focused. Because in a few hours, the most dangerous, most diabolical, most conniving woman in the world is visiting me:
— A gripping psychological thriller about a convicted killer trying to clear her name. The relationship between the protagonist and her mother was very intriguing + I liked the portrayal of media sensationalism. Good read.
Wow! Just, wow! Jackson so deftly took me on an emotional rollercoaster, and I kept changing my mind about what really happened over and over again. Well done!
I have had this book on my TBR since I first heard about its pending release. I am so glad I selected Allegedly for my #2017Throwback reading challenge, because this was one incredible journey.
•Pro: Mary was such a superbly complex character. Every time I thought I understood her, another layer was revealed. Jackson is a master character crafter, because I found myself terribly sympathetic towards Mary, who was a convicted baby killer. That is some set of skills.
•Pro: This story made me feel so many things, though I mostly felt heartbreak. A broken girl with a broken mom trapped in a broken system with no real future because they are part of this broken system. It was all very sad.
•Pro: It wasn't all tears and sadness. There were some awesome adults, who were actually quite kind to Mary, and they kept me hopeful for her.
•Pro: I loved the format. The bulk of the book is narrated by Mary, but in-between were excerpts from books, transcripts from interviews, and other epistolatory type snippets. They really brought me into the "life" of this murder.
•Pro: So many twists and turns. I just could not stop reading, because I had to know what was real and what was fabrication.
Overall: A dramatic page turner, that kept me guessing until the end.
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This book...wow. Go get it and read it. Seriously.
I started out listening to this on audio. The narration by Bahni Turpin was incredible. She really brought the characters to life. I'm glad I had those voices in my head to help keep the characters straight. She made the adults in books seem even more vile than they were on the page. But about 1/3 of the way through I had to go to the library and get a hard copy. It was just too stressful to listen to the audiobook. There was such a sense of foreboding that I needed to know what happened at the end in order to be able to concentrate on what was going on in the middle.
I'm not even ashamed of grabbing the book and reading the last few chapters to settle my poor nerves.
Then I went back and read the rest of the book straight through from where I left off on the audio.
Mary's life is absolutely tragic. She has been in jail since she was nine years old. Not juvenile detention. She was in adult prison. She couldn't be with the general population so she was kept mostly in solitary confinement for years. Now she is on parole in a group home full of viscous teenage girls who hate her for the notoriety of her alleged crime.
No one is on Mary's side in life. The story is told in part through transcripts from interviews and passages from books written about what a monster she is. There is always the racial subtext of a black girl killing a white baby. She's had death threats from people who seem to think that the correct penalty for killing a child is killing yet another child.
Her mother is horrible. Oooh, I hated that woman. She needs to be the center of attention at all times. It isn't surprising that Mary feels that it was her role in life to do whatever would be necessary to take care of her mother. It would have been nice if her mother felt the same way about her.
All the adults in her life judge her as a murderer and they seem to think it is worse than any other murder because she killed a baby. She is physically, mentally, and sexually abused in jail and/or the group home. No one cares except for her boyfriend, Ted.
Through all this you see her trying to better herself, especially now that she is pregnant. You root for her all through the book. She needs to learn to stand up for herself. That's hard when you have never had any control of anything in your life.
This book will leave you emotionally wrung out over the way Mary was treated. I'm a huge fan of books that have just one more twist than you were expecting right at the end. I've seen a lot of reviews that absolutely hate that but it is one part of this book that made me think this is a masterpiece. I just had to sit a while and let everything sink in.
This review was originally posted on Based On A True Story
I love the way the plot develops. I immediately feel for Mary. I don’t even care what she did, I just want to save her from her terrible conditions, which stops and makes me think. Wait of course I care what she did, allegedly!! It’s really interesting the way this book is able to play on different emotions. I also loved how Tiffany Jackson paired the present day narrative with different accounts and articles from when Mary was 9 and ALLEGEDLY committed her crime. As the story moves on we start to see more present day articles as well. Really this story is a rollercoaster of emotions. There were times that I thought one and times I thought the other. Little hints here and there to the real story that made you go hmmm. Some things I expected and some I did not but overall I couldn’t put the book down.
This is one of those books that I absolutely do not want to spoil anything but I can say that the relationship between Mary and her mother is definitely one of the many focuses. It’s interesting to see how the way their interactions and experiences shaped Mary. You despise her mother but there are also tidbits and hints about her as well. It builds the big picture in the end.
The reason Mary hooks up with someone is kind of similar to The Innocence Project is because she is now having a baby. She is concerned that they are going to take her baby away from her due to her past conviction and now she is going to do everything in her power to stop that from happening. This of course opens the can of worms that leads us down the rabbit hole of what is true and not true.
Of course we see the very ugly side of group homes as well. The other girls are all in there for different reason and it’s interesting to also see their stories as well. Especially New Girl.
So much I want to say! So much I can’t say! Ahh!
My mind is still turning over Allegedly. I’ve told all my friends to read it because I just want to talk about it. It’s one of those books, I can’t stop thinking about it still. It leaves a lasting impression.
→Trigger Warning: Violence, Rape, Ablism, Pet Murder, Child Abuse,
→Homophobic statements from characters
→ Love Ms Claire and Ms Cora
→That part about the mirrors killed me.
→A lot of the bible, Christian god talk, and devil inside type stuff.
→Abortion doesn't mean baby-killer!!!
→I love the Law & Order: SVU fangirling, especially about Benson. I've felt that exact same thing about her and that show. It was cathartic in a way, watching it growing up.
I was so engrossed to this book allllllllll they way through. Nothing bad to say, no problems with it, full on heart eyes emoji. The narrator was fantastic. Then that last damn chapter. Part of me loves it and is still thinking about it, part of me hates it for the shock, the undoing, and is still thinking about it.
The only thing I can really say, either way, you'll never forget Mary B. Addison and there's SO many more questions than answers that linger and haunt.