Emily May's Reviews > Allegedly

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
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really liked it
bookshelves: arc, young-adult, contemporary, 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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Comments Showing 1-46 of 46 (46 new)

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin Great review, Em :-) Sounds like a "feels" book!


message 2: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura I agree. Books that make me feel, be it good or bad feelings are the best. Thanks for making me and everyone who follows you, aware if this


Elise (TheBookishActress) I completely agree about this book! That ending was absolutely horrible. It unwrote so much of the message.


Emily May Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ wrote: "Great review, Em :-) Sounds like a "feels" book!"

It really is :)


Emily May Elise wrote: "I completely agree about this book! That ending was absolutely horrible. It unwrote so much of the message."

I know. If the rest of the book hadn't been so good that ending would have completely ruined it for me. I'm very surprised that the author (and her pub team) made that choice :/


Jessica Lyn That ending left more questions, and I was excited that the truth will be revealed, but then BAM.


message 7: by Kadi (new) - added it

Kadi P I didn't think it was my kind of book but ur review convinced me! I'm gonna put it on the list of books to read!


Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ I read :
Allegedly is dark, gritty and disturbing.
and I thought, ohhhh, great!!! What's wrong with me XD Great review Emily!


Sarah this review was amazing and is making me want this book yesterday.


message 10: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Beyersdoerfer I enjoy your descriptive and heartfelt reviews, Em. Based on your thoughts regarding reproductive rights, I recommend you read 'Far From the Tree,' by Andrew Solomon.


message 11: by Navessa (new) - added it

Navessa I'm going to add it. And probably wait four years to read it. I have a feeling I'll have all the rage-fuel I can handle once He Who Must Be Orange takes office. Wonderful review though, Em. As always ^_^


message 12: by George (new)

George Jankovic Wonderful review, Emily!


message 13: by Natasha (new) - added it

Natasha Wasn't initially going to read it, but based on your review and the fact the author will be in my neighborhood in about 6 weeks, I figure it will be worth a shot. Perhaps I can pester her about the ending


message 14: by Kay (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kay I just finished this today and ugh, five star read until the final chapter like you. I have no issue with twist endings where nothing is as it seems (I gave Abigail Haas two books five stars and they're among my favourite YA's) but this ending just didn't work for me and felt unnecessary rather than a mind blowing twist.


Emily May Kay wrote: "I just finished this today and ugh, five star read until the final chapter like you. I have no issue with twist endings where nothing is as it seems (I gave Abigail Haas two books five stars and th..."

I completely agree. It didn't seem to fit naturally with the rest of the book, right? I, too, love Abigail Haas, but this was nothing like that.


Sarah i just finished this and i 100% agree with you, especially with the last chapter. i think it'd have been better without it, and it really did take away from the story. for me, it was more of a "seriously?" kind of twist instead of an "oh my god" one. also, what was the point of mr. giggles?


Emily May Sarah wrote: "i just finished this and i 100% agree with you, especially with the last chapter. i think it'd have been better without it, and it really did take away from the story. for me, it was more of a "ser..."

True. Did you read the final version or an ARC? I was hoping they'd change up the ending for the published edition.


Sarah I read the final version.


Jennifer I completely agree about what you said about the last chapter. I would have preferred if the author had not done that.


Hannah I also agree with you about the ending. It made me suddenly see Mary as an unreliable narrator. Unreliable narrators are all very well (although not one of my favourite things to read) but to be surprised by that fact right at the end of the story made me feel lied to and hugely diminished my enjoyment in the story overall.


Lindsey Totally agree


Julia Rubin I felt the same way about the ending; up until the last chapter, I was going to give this book 5 stars.


Alicia Still have the book five stars (since there's no half button), but why the sudden blame on herself? She loved Alyssa and then twist! Alyssa was a bad baby. Feel like it still has the reader wondering what happens to Mary in the long run.


Amanda Sharp 110% EXACTLY my thoughts. I actually rated this a 5 with 2 chapters left only because I happened to have the GoodReads app open. But the ending ticked me off enough that I logged. Suck in and switched to a 4 for the exact reasons you mentioned. Great review.


message 25: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Woods Thanks for the great and thorough review! I haven't gotten the book yet but I will today! Thanks again


Kasturi I read your review before I started reading this book, and since I find most of your reviews very helpful, I kind of braced myself to be disappointed in the last chapter. And once again, you were so right. '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. ' YES!! I gave the book one less star simply because of that ending. I am still unsure what the author wanted us to feel in the end. :(


Steffanie I agree, I very much hated the last chapter. That's not the way the story should have ended when you consider the first 17 chapters.


message 28: by Fina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Fina Julianna I really wanted to see the trial and the mother to go to jail. I didn't want it to end


Jessica Haney Spot on. The ending sucked.


Regina We are in TOTAL agreement about that last bit. I haven't been that annoyed since "We Were Liars",...but the whole rest of the book was amazing.


Emily May Regina wrote: "We are in TOTAL agreement about that last bit. I haven't been that annoyed since "We Were Liars",...but the whole rest of the book was amazing."

Right? It just seemed like a really poor plot choice. I'm surprised it passed through editing :/


Regina Emily May wrote: "Regina wrote: "We are in TOTAL agreement about that last bit. I haven't been that annoyed since "We Were Liars",...but the whole rest of the book was amazing."

Right? It just seemed like a really ..."

Exactly, and while I know it's important, especially in YA, that we veer away from tidy endings, some books are strong enough to handle them, and I think this one was that kind of book. It could have handled it.


Jenbebookish I always want bad characters to be punished, so it frustrated me that I didn't get to see consequences for the mother. But I'm confused about that last chapter. Wtf?! I almost don't understand what I just read. So has she been lying the entire time???? She contributed to the death more than we were led to believe??? I don't get it.


Kasturi Jenbebookish wrote: "I always want bad characters to be punished, so it frustrated me that I didn't get to see consequences for the mother. But I'm confused about that last chapter. Wtf?! I almost don't understand what..."

I didn't get it, either. :(


message 35: by Jess (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jess I 100% agree with you - I was ready to give this book 5 stars and then the last chapter happened. I didn't see it coming, and it's always fun to be surprised, but I wasn't really satisfied with it.


♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️ Do you mind spoiler tagging what happens in the last chapter that ruined the book for you? I've gone back and forth on finishing this now or picking it back up later.


Emily May ♥️♥️ Lanae wrote: "Do you mind spoiler tagging what happens in the last chapter that ruined the book for you? I've gone back and forth on finishing this now or picking it back up later."

(view spoiler)


♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️ Emily May wrote: "♥️♥️ Lanae wrote: "Do you mind spoiler tagging what happens in the last chapter that ruined the book for you? I've gone back and forth on finishing this now or picking it back up later."

[spoilers..."


UGH. That's the worse. Thank You for the heads up!


Tzivi I just finished the book and had to come here to see if others were upset at the last chapter. It really was amazing until then. Now I have no idea what to think.


Heather Huston Just finished the book about 2 minutes ago & immediately came here to see how others felt about that totally random last chapter. It was definitely not what I was expecting, not because it would have been a poor plot twist, but because it felt rushed & without context. In no way was the development of the story or the characters leading in that direction, so it just felt like a slipshod finale hurriedly thrown together for shock value and a need to be "unpredictable."
So disappointing as I really enjoyed the book otherwise. I actually felt the book came to a natural close right at the end of chapter 17. So, I'm going to try to forget that last chapter & just rip it out before passing the book along. ;-)


Lynne ♠ The Book Dragon ♠ I just finished this book and your comment about the ending is spot on. Kinda ruined it all for me


message 42: by m&m (new) - rated it 4 stars

m&m Exceptional and accurate review! I felt exactly the same.


message 43: by Kate (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kate Agree that it was 5 stars til the bad ending.


Victoria Robinson Completely agree! That ending was just...agh.


message 45: by Charmaine (new)

Charmaine Brown Ugh! The book world be perfect without the last chapter!


Alexa I have to disagree a bit here on the subject of the ending. (Sorry, long post)
SPOILERS APLENTY for those who haven't read the book:
(view spoiler)


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