Friday, February 17, 2017
Allegedly (book review)
Released: January 24th, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
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.
Check it out, you guys, I'm actually reading a new release for once!!! This is the first 2017 release I've read this year, and damn, we're really starting off with a bang. I'm hoping this is a good sign for the rest of this year's releases. I also want to do more reviews of newer books since it's been wayyy too long since I've done any and I forgot just how much I enjoyed it.
So onto the book.
Don't worry, I'll be expanding on that comment much more eloquently, but if I had to give a reaction with one word, it'd be that, because WOW. And if I had to give a reaction with three words, it'd be, "oh my God," since I whispered that to myself at night into my Kindle screen.
Yep, it's that sort of book. Holy plot twists, Batman! I had no idea going into the story just how much I wouldn't know until the very end. Throughout the whole book, you never have all the information. A lot of the time you feel like you're stumbling around in a dark room, looking for a light switch, only to flip it on and find out you're not even in the same room anymore. You might think you know what's going on, but trust me, you don't. What I thought was a contemporary read turned out to be a mystery, too, and a chilling one at that.
On the subject of never knowing what's going on, I also had an incredibly difficult time trusting any character. Any of them! This didn't affect my enjoyment of the book at all. In fact, it's part of why I liked it. I felt like I was on edge, looking over my shoulder to see if another plot twist was coming, the entire time. It's what made the whole story so gripping. If you're looking for something to just relax and read over the weekend, Allegedly isn't going to be that. But it will be one hell of a ride. Just when you think you've met a character who could be a potential ally, think again! No one can be trusted. Including the protagonist.
Mary is an unreliable narrator. The trauma she's experienced as a kid (physical and sexual abuse, having to care for her mother at the age of seven or eight and take on way too much responsibility, being hated in the public eye for what she allegedly did, etc.) made facts and details about any important event blurred. Something she thought may have happened actually might not have, or vice versa. Nothing is clear because we see everything through Mary's eyes, and her perception is seriously skewed. This made trying to find out the truth that much more impossible. It's infuriating and addicting.
Another part I loved about the book were the excerpts from articles, books, and interviews about Mary and her trial. It added to the mystery, both by giving you more information (which may or may not be true), and leaving you with more questions. It was interesting to see how so many people judged Mary in different ways.
The only part I'm not sure about (and ultimately what prevented me from giving the book five stars) is the ending. It's so, so, so hard to talk about without giving anything away, but to me it felt rushed and out of place. Part of me still wonders if I'm being too harsh, but my initial reaction to the last chapter wasn't an, "OMG WHAT I CAN'T BELIEVE IT THIS IS SO WOW" sort of reaction. Instead, it left me so confused, I had to reread the whole chapter again. The intended plot twist (if I'm understanding the intent of it correctly) could have been excellent if it had been executed well, but I'm not sure it was. It felt sloppy when everything else had been so carefully thought out. But maybe I'll feel differently in a few days.
Overall, Allegedly was dark, gritty, raw, gripping, shocking, and addictive. It has a diverse cast of characters, covers topics such as racism and mental illness, and will haunt you for days after you've finished the book.
I rate it:
Have you read Allegedly? What did you think? What are your favorite books with unreliable narrators? Leave a comment!
I am a 17-year-old homeschooler, author, daydreamer, voracious reader, introvert, feminist, klutz, fangirl, and overuser of tape. I love the impossible (which might explain my obsessions with fantasy novels and Harry Potter) but I dip into the real world . . . occasionally. I tend to get overly emotional over my OTPs and eat sushi or listen to Taylor Swift to soothe the pain. If all else fails, reruns of “Doctor Who” or “Supernatural” is sure to help. I’m a big fan of mismatched socks, Cheez-Its, and bittersweet endings. I believe anything Rainbow Rowell, Felicia Day, or Lin-Manuel Miranda touches turns to gold. If you want to win the way to my heart, help me adopt a baby elephant. Or a llama. Or both. I write to survive and will often yell at my characters if they aren’t behaving, which is always. It doesn’t usually help. I am a contributor to the "Fauxpocalypse" anthology. You can follow me on Twitter at @Magic_Violinist.