Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Jen’s Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
REVIEW: Allegedly was a shocking read all the way through. Mary, who was nine years old at the time, was accused of killing a three month old baby. Her “momma” makes sure to let the police know that she had nothing to do with it and that the blame was to be placed entirely on her daughter. I saw right away what kind of a mother Dawn was to Mary. And it was someone no child like Mary should have had at her side. It lands Mary in baby jail and later into a group home that is trouble all around.
Dawn is a woman that doesn’t deserve to be called a mother. She constantly thinks about herself, never worried about her daughter, how she is surviving, what is going through her mind, or anything having to do with the case of baby Alyssa. The reader wonders right from the beginning if it was all a lie. Was Mary’s mother really behind it all? Or is Mary so traumatized from her upbringing that she coped with things in her own way. But at every turn of the page her mother seems more the culprit than anything else.
“Sometimes I think Momma used to forget who I was when she beat me. Or maybe she was just a whole different person altogether. Her eyes would go blank, face almost unrecognizably mashed up in rage.”
Mary’s truth begins to reveal itself as she finds out she is pregnant. No one believes her at first because so many years have passed and not once has she ever denied fault in the incident or shown any signs of being a guiltless victim in all of this. Many question her motives, including the fact that her baby will be taken from her the minute she gives birth. Only a few will be by her side, fighting for justice in this heartbreaking case. Even Alyssa’s mother believes her to be innocent of the murder.
“Did you kill Alyssa?’ she asks, without looking at me.
I can feel the weight of the question, built and held inside her head for years. She sounds exhausted from carrying it around for so long. And I don’t want to lie. I really don’t.
She sighs with her entire body.
‘Never thought you did.”
In all of this going on, her trying to prove her innocence, trying to stay strong for her little bean, she is constantly harassed and mistreated from all sides. The group home she is in is the worst place to be, especially as her pregnancy progresses. There is one girl, often called the “new girl” Sarah, that Mary has let her guard down with. But is she really someone to confide in or she one of the many that is full of guilt and murderous intentions? My mind is taken from one bad situation to another. That is Mary’s life since she was born. So it brings back the suspicion, is Mary actually innocent or has she just begun to believe her own version of that night. Is she so damaged that she took a life and feels no genuine remorse?
When it feels like some good will find its way into her life, everything is turned upside down again. Allegedly is not an easy read, but it makes you feel and think about everything that goes on around us. The many secrets and hardships many have to live through. I found myself reading through this book, at many parts of it shaking my head, others in pure shock, many of it mad at the words within the pages. But in all of that I realized that it captured my full attention and made me cherish everything and everyone around me. It is a book that I would undoubtedly recommend to anyone. And what a spine-chilling last few pages the reader is left with.