Tiffany Jackson's Allegedly - A Compelling, Backlist YA Read
by Sara Voigt (@meaningfulmadness)
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson is the gut-wrenching tale of Mary, a young woman accused and convicted of killing an infant in the care of her mother when she is just nine years old. Mary has been to what she calls "baby jail" and is now in a group home with young women who are in similar to her. Her current situation in the group home shapes her interactions and reactions with the people she encounters. Throughout the novel, Mary's reality is revealed as she deals with the day-to-day events that transpire at the group home, while her past is unraveled throughout the course of the novel in interactions with her mother and other people from her present and past. Her alleged crime and the fallout have molded her into a resourceful and broken young woman. The key question at the heart of the novel is Did she? or Didn't she?, and Jackson takes readers on quite a ride as this question is answered.
Whew! This book made me feel All. The. Things. First things first—a slight disclaimer—Allegedly is classified as YA. I would say the book is an extremely mature YA. The novel has language and thematic concepts that I would be hesitant to recommend to younger readers in the middle grades.
Okay, now my feelings—I found the novel compelling with an abundance of twists and turns, some expected, some unexpected. Mary is a hard narrator to trust, and as I read, I found myself questioning her motivation. The way Jackson details and unfurls Mary's relationship with her mother is both heartbreaking and fascinating. Apart from learning the details of Mary's alleged crime, learning about and trying to understand her relationship with her mother is my favorite part of the book.
“The group home is always muggy, like we live in an old shoe, smelling like corn chips mixed with roach spray. I never call the group home 'home.' It’s not a home. No house where you fear for your life can be considered a home.”
I had some issues with the resolution of the narrative, but overall I found myself reading it every chance possible. So, I would recommend it if you are looking for a compelling read, fast-paced read. This is an edgy, compelling story that I enjoyed diving into. Again, I would be cautious of the age of readers who read this book.
One other thought—Allegedly would be an excellent book club choice because it offers a broad range of topics that could lead to deep and rich discussion.
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