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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? 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?

390 pages, Hardcover

First published January 24, 2017

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About the author

Tiffany D. Jackson

13 books5,549 followers
Tiffany D. Jackson is the New York Times Bestselling author of YA novels including the Coretta Scott King — John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning Monday’s Not Coming, the NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly, Let Me Hear A Rhyme, and her 2020 title GROWN. She received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University, her master of arts in media studies from the New School, and has over a decade in TV/Film experience. The Brooklyn native is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.

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5 stars
10,162 (35%)
4 stars
13,065 (45%)
3 stars
4,549 (15%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,268 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
February 6, 2017
“Well, people tend not to think clearly when a black girl is suspected of killing a little white girl,” Ms. Cora says.

Allegedly is dark, gritty and disturbing. Sometimes the best kind of books are those that make me sad, afraid and just FURIOUS for the characters - and this was one of those books. If you want to be angry, then put this on your reading list.

In fact, it was a solid five-star read up until the very last chapter. The ending took a turn that I thought weakened the story; throwing in a last minute "oh my god!" for the sake of thrills, but losing some of the powerful messages that had been built throughout. That being said, I would still recommend this to anyone with a strong stomach and a liking for thought-provoking reads that shine a light on some of the darker aspects of the world we live in.

Mary B. Addison is a black teenager who allegedly killed a three-month-old baby when she, herself, was nine. The white baby girl, Alyssa, was left in the care of Mary and her mentally ill mother, but when her parents returned later that evening, Alyssa was heavily-bruised and no longer breathing. Fast forward to the present and Mary has just been transferred from "baby jail" to a group home.
Most of my life, no one has bothered to explain anything to me. It’s been one “’cause I said so” scenario after another. I stopped asking questions and in six years I have not run into one adult who would do me the common courtesy of explaining why something is happening to me.

It is told in a very straightforward style without feeling emotionally manipulative, complete with urban slang/AAVE. For me, this kind of narration is all the more powerful for its simplicity - the only authors who can pull a strong emotional reaction out of me are the ones who don't seem like they're trying to.

Mary is an extremely complex and sympathetic human being, bullied by the other girls she lives with and the women who work at her group home. She longs to take the SAT and go to college, but doing so requires a lot of complicated hoop-jumping, and those in charge of her well-being constantly discourage her by pointing out how colleges and employees will not want a murderer.

She is stuck; unable to change her life, better herself, or make any of her own decisions. If I wasn't already pissed, I would have been the minute she becomes pregnant and the adults decide that her baby will be adopted. As someone who is an advocate for reproductive rights/choices AND a new mother, I was enraged. It also prompted me to do some further reading about the babies of pregnant prisoners being taken away and the high depression rates of those women - it is truly so heartbreaking and scary.
“What does it mean when you love and hate someone at the same time?” I ask.
He laughs. “It means they family.”

Mary suddenly finds new reason to fight for her freedom when they threaten to take her baby away. But it's a complicated battle and it seems like the whole world is against her. She is torn between her natural desire to protect her sick mother, and her need to tell the truth. She hits roadblock after infuriating roadblock in her quest for justice.

Though I desperately wanted many things to turn out different, I also felt that Jackson made it very easy to understand Mary's reactions and decisions, for the most part. She also highlights the importance of black female friendships and support - something so rare in YA, where people tend to celebrate the inclusion of the lone non-white character - and it is extremely moving.

Seventeen out of eighteen chapters were utterly fantastic. I just can't help feeling let down by that ending.

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Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,427 reviews9,025 followers
January 22, 2023
Allegedly was Tiffany D. Jackson's debut novel. Yeah, think on that for a little while. This is a freaking debut!

I am still reeling from this book. It's one of those stories that sticks with you long after you turn the final page.

Following teenage protagonist, Mary Addison, after she is released from Baby Jail, she now resides in a group home and is trying to adapt to her new surroundings.

Mary Addison entered Baby Jail after being accused, and prosecuted, for killing a baby that she was helping her mother take care of.


The majority of the book is stream of consciousness narrative, which generally is hit or miss for me. This is a definite hit and in my opinion, how it should be done.

It was incredibly moving to hear Mary's remembrances of various parts of her childhood, her challenging relationship with her mentally ill mother, and of her alleged crime.

The rest of the book cleverly fills in the blanks with an excellent assortment of mixed media sources, such as police interviews and court transcripts.

I thought the blending of these two styles together was executed perfectly to reveal the truth at the heart of this story.

The thing I appreciated most about this book was the way it reflected upon the juvenile justice system. Shining a much needed light on the hopelessness and desperation these kids experience, not to mention the general systematic failures.

Behind every case number, inmate number and statistic, is a story. This is just one.

Mary Addison is a whip-smart, mixed-race girl, who struggles with low feelings of self-worth and faces a boatload of obstacles.

Her codependency with her mother and her mental illness was so raw. I truly felt for this girl. I was drawn into her story. It was such a struggle to get through some sections, but completely worth it.

It was so well done that at times, I would be so wrapped up, I had to remind myself that Mary Addison is FICTION. Sadly, for a lot of kids out there, too many kids, this story is all too real.

I did listen to the audiobook for this and DAMN, Bahni Turpin can make you feel all the feels. She is so talented and truly brought the story to life for me. I was listening to Mary as far as I was concerned. I could not recommend this audiobook highly enough.

Loved it, loved it, loved it!

Tiffany D. Jackson is one hell of a writer!

Profile Image for Deanna .
647 reviews12.4k followers
February 12, 2017
My reviews can also be seen at:

Oh my...


This is a dark, emotional, twisted, and powerful novel that blew my mind.

Mary B. Addison killed a baby when she was just nine years old...


Three month old Alyssa Richardson was taken care of by Mary's mother, Dawn Marie Cooper. Mary would often be present in the Richardson household while her mother was working. She grew very attached to both Alyssa and Mrs. Richardson.

Six years later, Mary. B Addison is now fifteen years old. She is anxiously awaiting a visit from the most conniving woman in the world....

Her mother.

Every other Sunday, her mother comes to visit her at the group home where Mary now lives. She arrives at 2:35, right after church. Hair, make-up, and clothing all perfect. Always putting on a show, even if no one is watching.

"Momma is all about appearances"

Many people think she's a wonderful mother who deserves an award for visiting Mary.

"Inside her bubble, nothing or no one could get her down. She smiled during evictions, smiled after Ray would beat the shit out of her, smiled when we were dead broke, and even smiled during my manslaughter sentencing ("See baby, it's not so bad. At least it's not murder!"). She's the most optimistic person on earth. Even when she's visiting her daughter in a group home."

Her Momma doesn't ask how she's doing. She talks about Church and Mr. Worthington, Mary's new stepfather. Talks about all the good food she eats and trips she's taken. But never does she bring anything for Mary or ask if there's anything she needs. And her visits are never EVER longer than fifteen minutes.

Mary says she can name several people who wish she was never born. There's even books written about what happened....The Devil Inside: The Mary B. Addison Story and What Happened to Alyssa?

Throughout her trial she never spoke a word. When she was sentenced she never spoke. However, things are different now. Now Mary has a very important reason to speak up.

But after all of this time can she? Will people believe her? Should they believe her?

What really happened to baby Alyssa?

I flew through this book. Honestly I could have read this book in one sitting if time had allowed. I was so engrossed in the story and Mary's past and present. The story is told from Mary's point of view. It flows well and is easy to follow. We see how the case played out in the media. There are news articles, book excerpts, court transcripts, depositions, and interviews interspersed throughout the book. All of this added to the story.

Mary is an awesome and complex character. I think that all of the characters came across as realistic. Damaged and flawed but still real. The author writes about relationships in a way that is authentic and compelling. It was fascinating reading the dynamic relationships between characters, especially between mother and daughter.

I think that this is a fantastic novel. Very well written. It's hard to believe that it's the author's debut novel. Powerful, heart-breaking, suspenseful, and gripping. Any way you cut it, in my opinion it's an amazing read.

I am really looking forward to reading more from Tiffany D. Jackson.

Thank you, Katherine Tegen Books for providing an advanced copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Kristin (KC).
251 reviews25.1k followers
May 17, 2017
*4 stars*

This story spoke to me in a voice so pained and confused and hopeless: An eight year old girl convicted of murdering of an infant. Allegedly.

The plot is set eight years after with Mary, now sixteen, living in a group home amongst other “troubled” girls, facing an everyday fight for her own survival.

Mary is still just as pained and confused and hopeless, and I can almost feel her not looking me in the eye as she tells me her story.

I loved this book just about all the way through; its grit and bravery astounding me. Its smooth flow and natural dialogue pulling me quickly through its pages, squeezing my heart in the palm of its eager grip.

And then something happened that changed its dynamic in a way I wasn't hoping for nor expecting. Maybe it became too fabricated. Maybe it became too real. I felt cheated and sad and angry.

And then I realized that maybe we as readers aren't supposed to love everything about this one. Maybe we’re only supposed to FEEL it. Really, truly feel it - straight down to our bones - and that I did.

I can appreciate the turn out, now that my boiling feelings have simmered, because it represents something bold that delivers a powerful statement, no matter how painful and ugly. That’s not to say I’m not left with residual angst, because I am. I also found myself wanting more story, which is a first for me as I’m not an overkill kinda gal. But in this case, a little more would have sufficed.

However, I must give credit where it’s due: Allegedly is a beautifully written book, one that will no doubt rip you out of your comfort zone and place you somewhere unique and fearless--which is basically all I can ask for in fiction.
Profile Image for Danielle.
779 reviews365 followers
September 7, 2020
This book was really intriguing. I felt like I was watching a true crime series. 🧐 A 15 year old girl tries to navigate life as a parolee living in a group home. She was convicted of killing a baby when she was 9... allegedly.... You find yourself really rooting for this girl and saddened that all the adults in her life failed her. 😔 I can’t say I was happy with the twist at the end. 😬 But the book sucked me in and I’ll likely be thinking about it for a long time to come 🤔 - so i really think it deserves this rating!
Profile Image for Jennifer Masterson.
200 reviews1,103 followers
June 22, 2017
This is going to be one of my favorite books this year! Although I've only made it through four books so far! Lol! Book ruts happen!

Absolutely phenomenal debut by Tiffany D. Jackson! All the feels! This was probably one of the best audio's I have ever listened to. The narrator, Bahni Turpin, hits it out of the park! Truly brilliant! I will be listening to more of her audio's in the near future. That's for sure. She's so good!

Mary B. Addison is 15 and in a group home/halfway house. She "allegedly" killed a baby 6 years prior from where the story begins. Did she kill the baby? Does Mary get out and start her life? What happens to Mary in the home? Well I'm not going to say, but if you read this, you will go down the rabbit hole and into Mary's dark, sometimes funny and twisted world!

Even if you do not normally read YA you might love this one.

Highly recommended!!!
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,241 followers
January 3, 2017
Beyond compelling. Well-crafted. Simply unputdownable. I could not stop reading until I found out the truth. It’s shocking that this is only the author’s debut!

Mary B. Addison allegedly killed a baby at nine years old. Mary’s mother was babysitting the three month old baby when it happened. She never said what happened, but was convicted anyway and has rarely spoken since. Did Mary do what everyone says she did?
Guess birthdays don’t mean nothing in a group home. I mean, it kind of makes sense. Hard to celebrate the day you were born when everybody seems to wish you were never born at all. Especially after you come into this world and fuck it all up.

She was in “baby jail” for six years until the state decided she wasn’t a threat and could be put in a group home where she has been for three months when our story starts. It’s awful, which is a nice way of putting it. The girls are horrible and are all there for serious crimes themselves, only they hate Mary from the beginning like most everyone she comes into contact with. Because she is a baby killer after all. Allegedly.

Eventually Mary finds out she is pregnant with another nursing home volunteer’s baby. This changes things when she comes under the realization that nobody in their right mind is going to let her keep her baby when she is in the system especially with the crime she committed. So for the first time Mary is going to fight to clear her name. What really happened to baby Alyssa?

The story is interwoven with fragments and excerpts from books, newspaper articles, depositions, police interview transcripts, magazine articles, and several other different kinds of reports. This helped to break up the story slowly revealing the details of Mary’s crime through the eyes of those involved in the case (whether police, witnesses, or even the media reporting on it). Other than these excerpts/fragments, the entire story is told from Mary’s perspective. I enjoyed her voice. She is complex and one hell of a narrator.
That joke of a bookshelf has the same crap they had in baby jail I’ve inhaled three times over and I’d kill for something - anything - new to read. But I’d never say that out loud. I’m a killer after all; they’d probably think I’d really do it. Figures of speech are luxuries convicted murderers are not allowed to have.

This book had a way of tugging at your heartstrings while also immersing you into this dark world. It was truly the perfect blend of contemporary realistic fiction and mystery/thriller. I could not get enough! I enjoyed how the criminal justice system and state foster care system played such a huge part in the story. It is a harsh reality and was depicted in a way that shows just how much research went into writing this novel. It’s phenomenal.

It’s brilliant how the author displayed the effects of sensationalization done in the media. And there’s the look at mental health and life in a group home. Not to mention the real star of the story which ended up being the increasingly convoluted relationship Mary has with her mother.
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 today:
My mother.

There are so many elements of Allegedly that I could rave about. That ending! The fact that it was based on the actual 2012 case in Maine where a ten year old girl was charged with manslaughter of a three month old baby while her mother was supposed to be babysitting. Diversity!! It’s dark and filled with the most compelling writing I’ve read in a while. The main point here is that you should definitely read this book. It will 100% keep you guessing leaving you on the edge of your seat. I can’t wait to see what Jackson comes out with next.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,852 reviews35k followers
June 19, 2017
One of the best things this book did for me was have me explore more about the
American juvenile justice system. I found myself reading about other high profile cases about children who commit murder, the psychology behind it, and punishment.

The current debate on juvenile justice reform in the United States focuses on the root of racial and economic discrepancies in the
incarcerated youth population. Zero tolerance policies in schools have increased and numbers of young people facing detention. Low income youth, youth of color with learning and cognitive disabilities are over represented in the justice system and are
disproportionately targeted by zero tolerated policies. Plus much of the criticism revolves around the effectiveness and rehabilitating juvenile delinquent.

This book was a mixed-bag for me -- mostly because I wished for the story to have moved in a different direction---more 'direct' focus on rehabilitation- for a child's crime- was my interest ---but I understand the high ratings. I think it's a great discussion book... which opens questions from "should kids who commit adult crimes go to jail in the first place"? to.... how do we get to the bottom of what really happened when a child is accused of a killing?

It was not a matter of me liking or disliking the ending of the story..... I'm actually neutral about it --but the choice that the author made invalidates the purpose of the entire story. It was a manipulative type ending.... which didn't fit - didn't flow - didn't match well with the rest of the story. Even if people liked it - or didn't like it --- either way --- it was a very controlled tightly chosen ending. As I say... I'm neutral about it myself --my emotions aren't strong one way or another about it.
However ...
The ending took away some of the integrity and authenticity of what I believe the authors overall purpose was in telling this tale: which was to give us an inside look at a broken juvenile justice system.
Tiffany D. Jackson got many parts right though too. We 'do' see and feel the injustice around race for example. We do see how hard it is to rehabilitate the youth from a group home for trouble kids. We feel the cruelty, the abuse, emotional and physical...and we see how horrible it is to be in a facility where because of a high profile case everyone knows your specific story: your horrendous crime: whether it's true or not.

As for the love story in here - well, I could have taken it or left it. There was some stereotyping and predictable scenes..... again --I was kinda neutral about this part of the story.

Overall -- there some important things in this book. Plus, for me it generated expanded interest. I deepen my awareness and hope that we come up with better solutions to reform juveniles that commit a crime.... solutions that work - for them and Society.

3.5 rating
May 19, 2017
4 stars! This was an intense, gripping and powerful read! And that ending!?!?!?.....I’m still working on picking my jaw up off the floor……

The story follows Mary who, at the age of nine, was convicted of murdering a three-month-old baby. Mary is now fifteen years old and living in a group home after surviving six years in “baby jail”. Mary’s situation really got to me – I found myself rooting for her from the first chapter.

The novel is highly emotional, disturbing and very sad at times. With that being said, it is so well-written that it sucked me right into the suspenseful drama where I was hanging on every single word eagerly anticipating what would happen next. The characters were very well-developed. I had strong feelings (both good and/or bad) for each character – several times I wanted to reach right into the book to interfere with the storyline and where ‘I thought’ it was headed.

I will warn readers to be ready for some BIG feelings (mainly sad) when reading this intense story. The group home setting is very negative and quite hard to read at times. Though I found myself cringing through a lot of the story detail, I have to hand it to the author, Tiffany D. Jackson, for making me feel a whirlwind of strong emotions. Jackson packs a powerful punch – this story made me feel anxious, hopeful, nervous, upset, heartbroken, disappointed, shocked, angry and frustrated.

It was such a fantastic experience to buddy read this with my amazing GR pal Kristin – it was so nice to have someone along with me on this crazy ride! I would recommend this novel as it is a very well-written and powerful book. However, I warn readers to be mentally prepared for some tragic and heartbreaking events.
Profile Image for Jananie (thisstoryaintover).
290 reviews12.9k followers
August 11, 2020
HOLYYYY. THAT ENDING. Tiffany D. Jackson is hands down becoming a fave for me because damnnnn can she write a mystery while also weaving in really important topics like the inadequacy of the justice system, group homes, juvenile detention, mental illness, abuse, and so much more. This was a psychological masterpiece if I ever read one, and she had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. If you haven't picked up one of her book's yet then you are sorely missing out!
Profile Image for daph pink ♡ .
884 reviews3,025 followers
September 11, 2021
3.5 stars

It's gonna be more like a Tiffany Jackson appreciation post and why I found about her writing so far.


I realised that Tiffany has this articulate way of writing susceptible and credulous main character which are not so gullible as they show they are. I first read Monday's not coming and I absolutely loved that book and the ending totally blew me off, after that I read grown and I didn't like that book that much, but at the same time it's an amazing book for all good reasons but again she did that thing about unreliable narration.

So when I started reading Allegedly I knew that I can't trust the MC because it's Tiffany *don't trust my narrators" Jackson so right from the starting I knew that Mary is not what she is showing.

This somehow ruined the book for me. Because when everybody is talking about THAT ENDING here I am feeling like oh yeah that ending. It's totally my problem because I should have read the book in order.

But keeping it all aside Tiffany Jackson is a gem of an author. Her writing style is so dark and sinister yet powerful and touching and emotional. She don't skive off the important issue just for the sake of shocking twist and turns. She elucidates her characters emotions and motivations. That's what I love about her writing.

Profile Image for Irena BookDustMagic.
603 reviews472 followers
March 17, 2021
Actual rating: 4,5

Only few books can shake me. Allegedly is one of them.

After I finished this compelling novel, I needed some time to process everything that was going on in the book, as well as calm myself so I could understand my feelings.

Reading this, you probably think I’m exaggerating.
If I was you, I’d probably think the same.
But I am telling the truth. Sometimes we don’t know how we’re going to react to a certain book, and sometimes our reactions can surprise us.

Going into this story, I knew it would be difficult for me. I was even aware how disturbing it was.
You probably hear about Allegedly, as one of novels written in own voices, one that was praised in “reading diversity” movement (if that’s a movement, I’m not 100% sure), the book that is important to read.

First of all, I agree with the statement how it is important for this book to be read, and for author’s voice to be heard.
This is one hugely important, disturbing book that represents not only people of color, but minority that we don’t get to read often about – teenagers in group home.

Honestly, I am afraid how I’m going to sound when I say this, but I will say it anyway: this novel reminded me how happy my life is. When I reflect and compare it to lives like ones I read about in this novel, to teenagers who yes, committed crimes during their lives, but are still alive and have to live with invisible “Scarlet letter” that follows them every where they go, without support of their families, in poverty and with someone else deciding about everything in their life, I understand how privileged I actually am.
And once again, I used the word I am really not a fan of, but there is no other word to say it better.

The story is told in first person, following Mary’s POV.
Beside Mary’s narration (and I have to state that Mary is one of the best narrators I had a pleasure to read about), there are bunch of newspaper articles, police interviews, excerpts from doctor’s papers and other similar stuff.

Reading Allegedly was thought provoking and emotional experience.
It definitely wasn’t easy.
Some scenes were violent and disturbing, some were harder to understand, some were extremely sad, but what hit me the most was how everyone underestimated Mary all the time.

I rooted for her, even though she never stated if she did it, if she killed the baby. She said she did, allegedly.
But yet, you as a reader don’t believe she would do such a thing. She does not seem like that kind of person.

The writing style is amazing, and I simply can not believe this is a debut novel.

One more thing I’d like to emphasize is the role of the State (here I mean criminal justice system and state foster care).
Mary’s (and other girls’) destiny depended so much on those two, that it feels like the State has it’s own personality.

There is one more thing we need to discuss: the last chapter.
I tried and tried to decide whether I like how this story ended.
At fist I was shocked, but resolved that I liked it.
Now, after some thinking, I wish the story ended differently.
Because, even though I understand why the writer chose to end the story the way she did, I can’t help but feel that some messages delivered through the story were (partly) erased with that conclusion.

Fun fact: When doing my research, I found out that this book was inspired by true event that happened in 2012, when 10 years old girl was charged with manslaughter of a three month old baby.

Read this and more reviews on my blog: https://bookdustmagic.com
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews918 followers
March 27, 2019
The first word that came to mind when sitting down to write this review was heavy.

Tiffany D. Jackson did not flinch when writing this raw and emotional story of a nine year old black girl caught up in the system after being convicted of murdering a three month old white baby.

I mean, seriously, if that doesn't grab your attention then I don't know what would....and to make it even more compelling, everything is not what it seems....MUAHAHAHA

This isn't just a story, this is an eye-opening dissection of a profoundly flawed legal system when it comes to mental illness and especially race.

This story is brutal and necessary and one that I can wholeheartedly recommend.💖
Profile Image for Erin .
1,205 reviews1,109 followers
March 27, 2017
Tiffany Jackson is an evil, evil person. She wrote a book that made me feel every single emotion. Anger, so much anger. Rage(yes there's a difference between anger and rage) this book gave me a migraine. Sadness, I had a pit in my stomach there entire time I read it. Allegedly is a dark read, it will ruin your mood.

Allegedly is about a nine year girl who is convicted of murdering a 3 month of baby... Allegedly. This book is a stark look at the juvenile justice system which is even more broken than the adult justice system. Most people know that Innocent Until Proven Guilty is a lie. If you are accused of a crime, you are guilty in the eyes of most. That's even more true if you are a minority.

I know most people will have a problem with the ending, but I don't I saw it coming and it made perfect sense to me. I loved Allegedly because it was a real, gut-wrenching, and chilling look at the life of a girl who never had a chance at a normal childhood trying to escape her current circumstances and make a better life. EVERYONE SHOULD READ ALLEGEDLY NOW!!!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
June 2, 2018
“Doesn’t matter what you say about racial equality, you’ve never seen white families storming the steps of city hall demanding justice for a little black baby. They’re pushing for the death penalty and don’t even realize executing this little girl is no different than murdering that baby.”

This book holds the crown for best-book-I-hate-the-ending of.

Let’s discuss.


Mary is one of the strongest characters I've ever read in YA. She's realistic and just as full of contradictions as anyone. She's been in juvenile detention, she's been up and down the block a few times, but she still wants a family and wants to be loved. In places, she doubts herself and thinks she's a bad person. All she wants is to break free from her mother, but she still loves her mother and wants her acceptance. All of these traits blend together into one of the most amazing character arcs I have ever read in a book.

The plot was engaging and I desperately wanted to find out what happened. The writing style is great, flowing so well that I lost myself in this book. Tiffany D. Jackson takes every opportunity to build dramatic tension. The different themes of both the book and Mary's character arc blend together perfectly. Every moment of the book is pitch-perfect.

The only problem is that awful plot twist and ending.


Mary's narrative is so strong that the ending feels weak and cheap.

The thing is, even with my hatred for the ending, I still have to give Allegedly five stars! Nothing could truly ruin my love for this book and my instinct to recommend this to everyone I know. I'll definitely be waiting for this author's next book.

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Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,472 reviews19.1k followers
June 9, 2017
I LOOOOVED this book........... right up until the very end. The ending felt SO cheap and tbh I'm so bummed bc this would have been 5 stars and a new favorite. Ugh. Womp :(
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,005 reviews1,050 followers
March 10, 2017
Even though I could say Allegedly is an intensely gripping read, I honestly could not read more than three to four chapters a day. It was a tough, really exhausting read. Normally, I could finish a book in two days, one if it’s an easy read but I had to stop reading Allegedly every after a few chapters and read something light and fun because the plot of this story is like a hard punch in the gut. It’s blatant, it’s violent, it’s nasty, it’s gritty, it’s painful and you just have to have enough guts to be able to go through the story. I could not remember the last time I felt so stressed out by a novel but I think that suggests a good thing because it only means that the story and the characters got through me.

What drew me to this novel is basically the premise. Teenage girls who committed serious crimes but are not old enough to go to prison stay together at a group home. Go figure the outcome. The group home is basically like the Hunger Games exclusively for girls but this one’s worse because they’re not mandated to kill each other. They simply just want to. I swear I could hear my heart beat against my chest every time I picked the book up worrying about what horrors await this time. That’s what Mary (who at nine years old was allegedly convicted of murdering a baby) had to face every day.

That’s only the background picture though because the bigger picture is this- Mary who is now 16 is going to have a baby. How effin' ironic is that?!

The characters felt real and the entire thing was very genuine because of the straight to the point writing using the voice of Mary, as she narrates the story. The book is emotionally a challenging read but I admire the author for boldly addressing social issues like racism (as Mary is a black girl who is convicted of killing a white baby), abuse, parental neglect and so many other bigger social issues that are often taken for granted.

The only thing that didn’t work well for me is the ending because as much as I enjoy surprises and plot twists, I honestly don’t think it worked this time for this novel. For me, it didn’t sit well with the preceding events of the story or perhaps, it was a bit forced. But still, this is a pretty strong debut novel and if you’re up for a challenge and want to go out of your comfort zone, this is highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,177 reviews1,068 followers
March 23, 2017
What a terrific suspenseful and disturbing debut novel by Tiffany D Jackson.

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

First of all I loved the cover and Title of this novel.

I really enjoyed this well written thriller with it's complex and disturbing characters and realistic plot. Classified as YA novel which I was a bit wary about at first but this was entertaining and suspenseful and a real page turner. This is the sort of thriller that pulls you in from page one and you just want to rally to the end to find out what happened. I would never have picked up this book if I had not read really encouraging reviews from my trusted Goodread friends.

I listened to this one on audio and the narrator did a great job, but I still cant help wishing I had a hard copy of this book instead.
Profile Image for Kelli.
844 reviews389 followers
February 15, 2019

Get the audio and don’t read any reviews at all. 4.5 stars
Profile Image for ♛ may.
802 reviews3,763 followers
June 20, 2017
I feel like if I say anything it could be a spoiler, so this is just gonna be incoherent screaming.

First off, THIS BOOK IS SAD. I found it really depressing to read about how the condition of the group home was for the girls. Even though they are considered worse than juvie kids, they still have it pretty rough.

So this book is about Mary, a girl stuck in a terrible, terrible situation after she has been allegedly accused of murdering a baby. I mean, it sounds totally freaky and it is in some aspects. But its also awful and daunting and chilling and hella engaging.

The characters really stand out as a highlight in this book because theyre so well crafted. You never know who the trust, whos innocent, whos guilty. Everything is just a big question mark and youre forced to try and solve it till the very end.

Oh and the ending will leave you like

Lately, I’ve been really disappointed in the thrillers I’ve come across. I think since I’ve read Dangerous Girls, everything pales in comparison but I was pleasantly surprised after I finished this book.

It’s not perfect though. I had some issues with the plot and mainly the ending bc it was just so sprung up on the reader and there are a lot of unanswered questions just left hanging. It just feels, idk incomplete??

Anyways, this is not a nice book. This is not a cute book. This is a confusing, messed up, thrilling book that’s probably gonna make you need a little bit of therapy once you finish.

“It’s easier to keep an animal in a cage than to play with it.”

3.5 stars!!
Profile Image for Joce (squibblesreads).
229 reviews4,929 followers
February 15, 2017
4.5 stars.

This book kicks so much ass. It was a difficult read in that it made me uncomfortable, but as someone who has never been involved with the legal system as an alleged perpetrator, and as an Asian-American, I have not had the experiences that the protagonist had, and this was a necessary and welcome discomfort for me. From its "unreliable" first-person narration, to its commentary on the treatment of African-American young girls in the book's group home and legal system, to the discussion around nature versus nurture in young children who are convicted of crimes, this will be for sure a book that I will re-read especially now that Goodreads tracks re-reads *cough cough*.

I go into more detail about my specific thoughts in THIS VIDEO where I review Allegedly and 5 other Winter 2017/Fall 2016 YA releases!
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,396 reviews7,277 followers
May 4, 2017
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“It’s easier to keep an animal in a cage than to play with it.”

My friend SUSAN’s review is what put Allegedly on my radar. When I took a glance at the synopsis I immediately was like . . . .

I was correct. My enjoyment of this book comes as such a surprise that I find myself in fear of developing a serious case of word vomit and spoiling the entire thing with too much typey typey so . . . . .

Yeah. That’s really what I need to do. I think I’ll let the book speak a little for itself. Meet Mary. She’s getting ready to turn 16 . . . . .

“I was still in baby jail on my last milestone, my thirteenth birthday. They didn’t throw me a party then either.”

Mary doesn’t reside in the “baby jail” any more. For the past three months she’s been living in a halfway house of sorts . . . .

“Most of the crimes the other girls in the house committed are like that. Crimes of passion, “snapped” moments, and good ole-fashioned wrong place-wrong time situations. My crime was more psychotic. I was the nine-year old who killed a baby.”

She’s about to discover she has another problem on her hands . . .

“My period is now ten days late.”

When Mary is informed that there is zero chance she will be keeping her baby as long as she’s connected to her crime, she decides it’s finally time to start talking . . . .

“Alright, Mary. Now, just tell me everything that happened. From the very beginning.”

And that’s where things start to get interesting. And horrifying. And cringe-inducing.

If you like your YA to pack a punch, this is a must read. Reminiscent of another fan fave . . . .

Allegedly is relentless and will keep your fingers flipping until literally the very last page. Fair warning, if you’re an oldie but a goodie like myself you will most likely have a moment or three where you start talking directly to Mary or at the book in general with things like . . . .

But trust me that it all makes sense in the end . . . .

Solid 4 Stars. Recommended.
Profile Image for Stepheny.
381 reviews536 followers
August 15, 2017

I read a really great review for Allegedly and thought it sounded awesome. Sometimes when this happens we too think that the book is awesome. Other times we are let down and remember that our tastes are different; that what others look for in a book might not be the same thing we are looking for in a book. What I can say is that I enjoyed Deanna’s review more than I did the actual book.

I had to set the bad grammar aside in this book because it was told from the first person point of view. The grammatical errors were done intentionally to showcase the lack of education of our narrator. So who is our narrator? Why is her grammar so bad? What story does she have to tell us?

Mary B. Addison.

When Mary was only 9 years old she was convicted of killing a baby. The baby was in the care of her mother and the details of the death are hazy and confused. When Mary is accused, she doesn’t speak. She refuses to answer questions or talk at all to detectives. All they have is the testimony of Mary’s mother and the evidence. While the evidence indicates there may be more to the story than meets the eye, Mary’s refusal to speak leaves them with no choice.

The story is told in parts. We get Mary’s firsthand experience in the world of juvenile detention facilities. She refers to her first six years in the facility as “baby jail”. She was released to a halfway house of sorts for children who have committed crimes. The girls in this house are violent and cruel. While the house is meant to be a means of rehabilitating these girls, the “wardens” within it are worse than the criminals. They are aware of the goings-on and yet refuse to intervene. They do nothing to help aide these girls in their attempts to better themselves- merely mocking and demeaning the girls at every turn.

Mary is far from innocent. She is allowed out to work at a nearby hospital where she tends to the elderly. She sneaks off with her boyfriend, Ted, who is 2 years her elder and also housed at a detention facility for criminal youth. And Mary is pregnant with Ted’s baby.

Mary decides that the only way for her to keep her baby is to convince her mother to tell the truth about what happened that night when Mary allegedly killed the baby.

The events in this book were frustrating to me as a reader. It seemed to take forever for the author to get to the point and tell us what happened. Instead we get the everyday mundane rituals of the halfway house, underdeveloped side characters and the confusion of what actually occurred that resulted in the death of a baby.

I felt the ending was garbage. After reading almost 400 pages I expected something much better than what I was given. And I didn’t care for a single person in the book. To me, there is no worse feeling than not having a single character to pull for, or stand behind. Mary’s refusal to say outright what happened annoyed me. At the very least let the reader know. It was uneventful and I found myself bored more than once. If you want to read the great review that led to me reading this book you may do so here. The book just didn’t do much for me personally.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,403 reviews8,134 followers
May 27, 2020
Such a thrilling novel that shows the injustices within the American penal system, especially for Black and Brown youth. Allegedly follows Mary E. Addison, who was served six years in jail for allegedly murdering a white baby at the age of nine. After those six years, she was placed in a group home with mean “caretakers” and several other girls who don’t seem to have each other’s backs. Mary’s life shifts once again when she gets pregnant, with the child of her coworker Ted who she met at her assignment at a nursing home. Now with a baby on the way, Mary feels more fire to set the record straight and prove that she did not commit murder at the age of nine. But to fight for her case and for the life of her baby she will have to uncover a lot of her past secrets, both about her mom who abandoned her to her fate and about herself.

A really sad and sometimes disturbing novel, its grittiness reminded me of the young Asian girl in Nami Mun’s Miles from Nowhere , especially with the focus on a young black girl wronged by a system and now unjustly forced to pay the price. Tiffany Jackson does an excellent job of showing all the barriers Mary faces in her quest to improve her life. For example, even taking the SAT, which was such a non-issue for a privileged person as myself, is extremely difficult for Mary given her lack of an ID and her lack of baseline supportive adults in her life. Allegedly highlights a legal system that exploits the developmental vulnerabilities of children and maintains their suffering instead of helping them heal and grow. I most loved Mary’s persistence in the face of these obstacles and her determination to create a better life for herself and her child.

Similar to many others, such as my bff Bri, I felt disappointed by the ending of this book because it portrayed Mary in a way that reduced the complexity of her character and her quest for something different in her life. As Bri wrote perhaps this is Jackson’s way of portraying how we can become the system that abused us, but the ending did feel a little reductionist to me. Furthermore, I wish the other characters in this novel received more characterization and complexity, such as the other girls that Mary lived with. I think it would have been interesting from a relational standpoint to see Mary’s trust or lack thereof with these girls beyond the many conflicts they had with one another, especially if they all received some additional character development.

Overall, recommended to those searching for a suspenseful and engaging young adult contemporary. There’s strength and there’s sadness throughout the novel, a solid debut from who appears to be a pretty prolific author.
Profile Image for Booktastically Amazing.
442 reviews370 followers
January 22, 2022
Dear younger, naiive, Booksy. *throws piano at her head* For your lack of a thought process.

Rating: 😐😐😐😐😐 4.6 (brain, who's asking for it? Not me)

To this day, (I finished reading this a couple of days ago. I want to sound dramatic) I cannot find the proper ways to explain what in the freaking donut infested world, happened.

I am never reading this book again.
(I totally am)
It was too painful.
(I liked that)
Everything felt too real.
(I still liked it)
So yes, I'm never reading this again.
( I am completely sure i will read this again)

Before starting this whole review and the complete madness infused spiel that will regurgitate out of my mouth, I really need to make clear that this book was gritty, disturbing and full of triggers left and right. So, since I never really found a concrete list of all the warnings online, I shall make a poor excuse of one, down below.

TW: Sexual and physical abuse, detailed animal death, harassment, violence, mild gore and emotional manipulation.

Those are a few of what I remember and if I'm missing some, please let me know.

You see, when I mean I want a novel that disgusts me and makes me love it at the same time... I mean THIS. Yes, I am quite aware that makes me a little strange sounding, considering the whole thing up there specifying the horrors that took place beneath the hell in these pages, but it's just so out of the ordinary to have a book in which some twists grab your entire brain and pull it apart bit by bloody bit, that it basically made it impossible for me to hate it. The violence was strong, but also, necessary? It didn't feel out of place, didn't feel forced, wasn't there as a plot filler. It just was. In all its sickening representations of what humans are capable of doing. The storyline was intense and full to the brim with questions of

Is the narrator telling the truth?
Did this happen?
Did it not happen?
What is real?
And what is alleged?

I loved how detailed and foreshadowed it was, how some things made absolute sense whilst others threatened my intelligence and like, what??? How am I supposed to know what the heck is happening when I trust absolutely nobody??? *sigh* Isn't it so wonderful to feel like you're getting emotionally and physically messed up whilst reading a book? Isn't that just beautiful?

Spoiler Alert: It feels like you're going straight to H- e- double bookmarks with an umbrella and an ice pack. Unprepared and still walking on like the whole entire journey isn't burning you from the inside out.

The writing was immersive and detailed just so, in the sense that I was able to experience every drop of blood dripping from a cut in the head which I do not have, every insane scream rattling in my brain like a puppet without strings, begging to be placed on the puppeteers hands once again. Every dramatic turn was expressed with utmost delicacy and frankly, that made my soul screech in excitement. And yes, screech, in my face. Uh huh. I still have a metaphorical headache.

I want to explain that the characters are all flawed, most have no redeemable qualities- scratch that, none of them have redeeming qualities.  Harsh, but indomitably true.

Firstly, the main character. Never in my life, have I been conflicted about an MC more than I am now. Most of the time, I either like them, or hate them. That's basically the gist of it, however, this girl? Oh yeah, I have no idea where to put her in the 'likeable' scale in my book rating capabilities. I adored her unreliable narrative and some of the choices she made were amazing, and I can say that I yelled with her in triumph. And then she would do something extra mega stupid. And I would hate her all over again. Sense? Doesn't make any. I will admit that her strength was beyond my 45678 years on this planet and that I loved her perseverance on whether surviving was worth the effort or just a waste of time.

Then we have the rest of the background characters. How can I explain it correctly this time... oh yeah, I despised them all (not really all, but I want to be over dramatic). But in a way that I was awed at how unlikable they were. Y'all get it, right? There were some that were actual decent beings and not full of pent up demons with bloody horns and auras full of malice. However, the book is basically built off of pain, and heartbreak induced by those mucus being. The MC's suffering as cause of these monsters, every frustrating moment that almost made me want to go full throttle on the Booksy Killer alter ego included these people. I understood what the author wanted me to feel, and I felt it. No need for more suffering please. I. felt. everything. I think the line from me to Tiffany D. Jackson has been disconnected because I can't seem to find the reason as to WHY BREAK ME TO THIS EXTENT. Yeah, I still don't get it.

The love interest (if he can be called that), was incompatible with my missing intelligence. I still don't understand him. Okay, maybe I do but I want to make him sweat a little. I hated him, but I didn't really. Then I hated him again, stopped doing that, fell in love, wanted to kill him, fell in love again. And ended up... not really knowing what to express. Like he was a good guy? Maybe? And then he had to poop on the only nice thing happening to the MC? But he ended up nice? Ughhhh, the emotions this guy attracted like a magnet from me, made me want to slice through his jugular. No knife will ever accomplish what I felt stabbing though me, throughout this whole 'romance' of theirs.

But like, I enjoyed it. (please send help)

On a closing note, I would say that the addiction this forced into my arteries and straight to my brain was donut like. Do I think it had it's 'what the heck is this' moments? Of course I do, no novel is perfect (unless it is). I had the biggest obsession with the whole plot of the story, the characters were worth the 20+ years in prison it would take me to serve if I ever had a chance to encounter them. I don't care if my skin is freaking green, they better get their filthy hands off of anything that might harm anyone close to me. *serene smile* That being said, I'm now extremely disturbed as to why I adored this as much as I did and questioning my moral compass and if it's missing, considering to steal one from my fellow brethren.

Anyone want to volunteer? I assure you, the pain will be fleeting.

somebody get Tiffany the memo on the last sentence up there, I think somewhere along the path to Hades, she forgot

What. In. The. Freaking. Athena’s. World. Did I just read.

This book messed me up to a point of no return and I have no idea what to think of that.

I've heard people saying this is disturbing. Hmmm, should I-
I should. I totally should.
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,199 reviews188 followers
February 15, 2017
If you’ve ever been unexpectedly dive-bombed by a bird, then you know how it feels to read the ending of Allegedly. A fast-moving, flapping blur comes screaming out of nowhere, gets way too close to your face, and then careens out of sight again. Heart pounding, eyes darting, you might illogically wonder for a moment if you hallucinated the whole thing.

But no, it really happened, you have indeed been the victim of avian intimidation, and yes, Tiffany D. Jackson really did just execute the debut novel equivalent of a mic drop.

Mary Addison was nine years old when she killed a baby. Allegedly. She’s never told anyone the story of what happened that night. She’s now fifteen, has transitioned to a group home, and is trying to think about her future. When she finds out she’s pregnant and the social workers tell her she won’t be allowed to keep her baby, she decides it’s time to tell her story. She needs to clear her name so that she and her boyfriend and their child can be a family. And that’s all I’m going to say about the plot, because DUDE you need to experience this for yourself.

Bahni Turpin gives the performance of her life in the audio version. It’s on another level. I’ve seen this book compared to Orange is the New Black, and I can see where they’re coming from with the way Turpin brings all the voices of the girls in the group home to life. It’s not a happy place, and there’s a lot of yelling in just about every accent you can imagine. The soft, almost tender way she reads Mary’s words makes the first-person narration even more intimate. I felt like I knew her.

The more I think about this book (and I’m thinking about it a lot, it won’t leave my head), the more blown away I am by Jackson’s achievement. She turns what could have been another effective but one-note coming of age story into so much more.

Wow. Just—wow.

More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,381 reviews11.7k followers
January 4, 2021
I have now read 3 books of Tiffany D. Jackson, and each one of them needed a better ending. I wish she had a more skilled editor who could guide her to achieving more polished works.

A lot of Allegedly is phenomenal. It is a story of a 10 year black girl accused of a murder of a white infant, and Jackson does a fantastic job portraying how criminal system fails children again, again and again. The failings are shocking, and I would have thought them sensationalized had I not read news or books like Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. Jackson's characters are complex and interesting, her dialog is great. Her books are impossible to put down.

However, at about 75-80%, just like Grown and Monday's Not Coming, Allegedly succumbs to too many story threads being unfinished and left loose, too many inconsistencies, too many unnecessary twists. I wish Jackson abandoned some subplots and wrote a tighter work. Hate to see so much talent not used to its full potential.

P.S. This was a fun buddy read. What are we reading next?
Profile Image for enqi ༄ؘ 。˚ ⋆♡.
321 reviews584 followers
December 15, 2022

i think it's the most raw, gritty, haunting book i've read this year - maybe even in my life. to say i was shocked is an understatement. i was stunned, thrown out of the loop for a second, because i was so amazed at the power of tiffany d. jackson's writing - it was heartfelt, soul-stirring, evocative, powerful. i am pretty sure i felt every emotion along the spectrum of possible emotions while reading this. it gets under your skin, stays in your head, resonates in your heart, and leaves you reflecting on what you've just read for long afterward. some books, they leave their mark on you and you can't forget them no matter how hard you try. this book was poignant, expressive, ominous, cruelly honest and yet still hopeful.
Profile Image for Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky).
256 reviews430 followers
May 14, 2017
Some children are just born bad, plain and simple. This is how mary B. Addison became a household name… was there something that made her snap, or was the evil dormant all along?

4.5 Stars

Allegedly is a brilliantly written, well plotted piece of fiction that speaks to deep, dark truths in modern society.


Mary is beautifully released as the main character. She perfectly incapsulates a mixture of intellectual potential, voiceless exhaustion and clear-eyed awareness of the hopelessness of her own position. At times it was emotionally exhausting being in her mind. I really loved how realistically her choices and decisions were portrayed. She was a poorly socialised, lonely, disenfranchised 15 year old and many of the choices she made, and situations she found herself in, reflected that reality.

She smiled during evictions, smiled after Ray would beat the shit out of her, smiled when we were dead broke, and even smiled during my manslaughter sentencing… she was the most optimistic person on earth.

The relationship between Mary and her mother was so well done. Being in an abusive relationship where the abuse is hidden creates huge cognitive dissonance. I felt like this confusion was handled sensitively and honestly.

However, not all the characters were as realistically drawn. In a book about a girl unfairly demonised it is worth noting that much of the monstrous violence of the other girls goes unexplored and unchallenged. Some of the other supporting characters were well drawn, others not so much. What is of note was the exchange between the therapist and the girls. The therapist, an affluent, educated woman, attempts to relate to the girls:

“Well, I’m sorry to hear you say that, Kelly,” she says, her voice shaky but determined. “But I am trying my best to . . . give you the emotional tools . . . to help you succeed.”
“How? By making us write in these stupid books?”
Kelly tosses her book in the middle of the circle. Ms. Veronica’s face stiffens.
“You know, even though I haven’t been exactly in your situations, I can still relate,” she says, growing defensive. “I . . . I lost my first boyfriend, my first love. And I was in a dark place for a long time. Even had to move back home with my parents. But I dug my way out of my depression, went back to school, and found a career that I love. So you see, ladies, I’m here, almost to be an inspiration. That you, too, can overcome anything.”
An entire minute goes by and no one says nothing. Finally, Kelly busts out laughing.
“What is so funny?” Ms. Veronica demands, clearly offended.
“Yo, Ms. V,” China says slowly. “No disrespect, but are you really trying to tell me you having a dead boyfriend is like being in a group home?”
Ms. Veronica’s face turns red. She starts to say something but stops herself.

I thought this was a really important exchange. So many people who work with people with complex needs come from a paternalistic position. They have very little understanding of the realities of their clients lives and are confused when clients aren't compliant because "I'm trying to help you" without acknowledging that, in many cases, compliance with the worker is demanded- to keep their housing, their government payments, to keep them out of gaol or in the hopes of regaining or retaining custody of their children. I was really pleased to see a darker reality of social work. People who go into case work "to inspire and help people" are often looking to get their own needs met through client compliance, not the other way round.


I had my heart in my throat for a lot of the novel. I desperately wanted to see Mary receive justice and was so afraid it wasn't going to work out for her. Unfortunately, I felt that the ending was a bit of a let down. The story was engaging enough- I didn't feel any twist was necessary and it weakened an otherwise very strong novel. The writing was simply perfect. The style was sparse, littered with slang, and felt appropriate to the content.


There are some very obvious themes here- racism, powerlessness, grief, the cycle of poverty and crime, media justice and our obsession with murderers. These were handled with a deft hand. Although I was aware of them I was primarily reading a story. Which exactly how reading fiction should feel.

This is a powerful story that reflects some stark realities. I loved it.

Recommended for: Readers who liked Dangerous Girls and The Hate U Give, readers who enjoy reading about sociological issues, people who like thrillers and contemporary fiction. This is not YA. If you usually avoid the genre let me reassure you that it has none of the painful cliches that can ruin adult enjoyment in YA stories.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,286 reviews637 followers
April 11, 2019
“Allegedly” is narrated by sixteen-year-old Mary Addison. To add suspense to the story, author Tiffany Jackson adds historical notes, police reports, and psychiatrist reports of the trial of nine-year-old Mary. Mary was convicted, at age nine, of murdering a three-month-old baby. At nine years of age, Mary was locked up in solitary confinement for six years due to the fact that there is nowhere in the penal system that can deal with a convict this young. Better to hold her in dark isolation than put her in the community of harden aged criminals, or so the penal system felt.

What author Jackson illuminates in her gritty and twisty tale is the flaw of the justice system, mental health system, and social services systems for children. Jackson uses Mary’s voice to make the reader feel the injustices that are inflicted on children of the system. Mary is a survivor and intelligent. The cards were stacked against her from the start. Through Mary, we endure the tyranny of social service, and how children are left without support.

What makes this a page-turner is the slow way information is provided to the reader about what did happen to the baby. Mary’s narration tells the reader that she’s a baby killer….allegedly. Author Jackson keeps the reader guessing…did Mary really kill the baby? How did the baby die? What happened that fateful night? The reader also learns the conditions of Mary’s upbringing, which makes for a horror story all on it’s own.

This is a quick read. It’s a young adult read that is not a coming-of-age story, but a social commentary on America’s unjust social, legal, and medical systems for disadvantaged children and youth. This story will stick with me for a long time.
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