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.
Tiffany D. Jackson presents a riveting thriller complete with family drama, complex relationships, deceit, and deeply buried truths, in her haunting debut novel, Allegedly. In nearly 400 pages, Jackson lets us into the life of Mary —an alleged baby killer —showed us the struggles she has to make to change her life for the better, and showed us just how messy life can be. She creates a realistic portrait of teenage life in its roughest form and it was painful to read. Allegedly is a disturbing story about how far a child could go to protect her mother, and later, what a mother is prepared to do to keep her child.
At the age of nine, Mary Addison was accused of killing Alyssa —a three-month old baby left at her mother’s care. She was convicted, served time in baby jail, and was then sent to live in a group home. But nobody knows what really happened the night Alyssa died. Mary, wouldn’t breathe a word about it! And despite the court trials and the verdict, the huge question remains… Did she really do it? At sixteen, Mary got pregnant. The threat of having her baby taken away from her because of the crime she committed made her want to spell out the truth and strip the “baby-killer” reputation off her. But can she do it when nobody believes her? When everyone thinks she doesn’t stand a chance? When society doesn’t go easy on people with criminal records?
Jackson has a way of keeping her readers engrossed. She cleverly scattered pieces of interviews throughout the book, from the victim’s mother, to a number of psychologists who examined Mary, down to some of the inmates in jail. There were also excerpts from magazines to whole books about Mary, all letting us take a peek of her past. These excerpts would often lead you to believe Mary’s claims but there are also some that would hint that she really might be guilty. That of course compelled me to read ‘till dawn.
A good part of this book, seventeen chapters to be exact (the last chapter just didn’t sit well with me), made me feel bad for Mary for being in jail for something she later claimed she didn’t do. At the same time I just admired her strength, her resilience, her courage and solid determination. Living with other murderous girls who doesn’t like her in the group home , Mary is almost always in danger. She was bullied, beaten, hated, but she didn’t go down without a fight and she doesn’t act rashly. Instead, she smartly thinks over everything including the possible consequences before making a move. And that’s one thing I like about her.
I love that this book contains not just the evil-doers that was common in Mary’s world, but also some good ones, like Miss Claire and Miss Cora, who will restore your faith in humanity. This book simply recognizes the good and the evil inside each of us.
The sincerity within the romance was really amazing. It was something that you’ll deeply feel despite having just a minor play on the plot. It was beautiful how Ted and Mary finds a home in each other. I was constantly wondering if they can have a happy ending together with all the shit going on. Okay, I wished and prayed for a happy ending because I recognize true love when I read one!
The ending didn’t quite left an impact to me as I would’ve wanted. While it draws some “Oh my Gods” from a lot of readers, for me it just didn’t feel so shocking. And that’s saying something because I wasn’t really expecting that kind of ending. It felt more like the author is trying to put some heavy, heart-wrenching end to this book but ended up losing the beauty of it instead. I was going to give this book a five star rating until that ending!
That being said, I think Allegedly is an unshakably realistic depiction of a convicted teen-ager’s life. It is a troubling and gripping read loaded with the world’s harsh realities. Jackson deftly shows the lengths a person would go just to get what her heart desires. I would happily recommend this book to anyone looking for an authentic thriller.