For every book we read during the YA book club, we try to write a review. This way anyone who couldn’t be there, can still join in on the fun! Saskia den Ouden is our main reviewer for the book club books, judging all that we have picked.
When a kid commits a major crime, it’s often bigger news than when adults do it. Somewhere in the back of our minds, we’ve convinced ourselves that kids aren’t capable of such deeds. So when children do commit such a crime they are innately evil because incidents like these always happen in a vacuum, right?
When Mary B. Addison was nine years old, she killed a baby, allegedly. She never really expounded on what happened that evening. Her mother was a nice black church going lady, the baby was white, so the jury and overall public came to a conclusion all on their own and sentenced Mary.
After four years in prison, she has been moved to a group home, where she lives with a bunch of mentally unstable girls, who are there for their own reasons. She never felt the need to speak up, until she accidentally got pregnant and the state started threatening to take her baby.
Allegedly is a fascinating and infuriating look into America’s systematic racism. We follow Mary right before she finds out she’s pregnant through her journey trying to get her name cleared. Jackson uses Mary’s narration juxtaposed with media excerpts concerning her case to weave this tales. It gives a great insight into who Mary is and how the world at large views her, which sometimes overlap, but are often at odds with each other.
The only thing I disliked about was it’s rather abrupt ending. The book is slow moving, reflecting how Mary’s life goes. The reader can follow all the events in intricate detail, really living this experience with her as telepathic flies on the wall. However, before you know it, you’re at the end and it’s like a wall slams down. There’s not really a resolution and it rather reads like Jackson ran out of time, had to hand something in and that’s what the publishers went with. It’s not the ending this book deserved, but luckily it doesn’t take away from the message of the book; that we have to think more deeply about these alleged criminals we see on TV, that we need to be aware of our own prejudices and biases, that you can’t eat up what the media tells you.
Interested in reading Allegedly?