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4.9 9
by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home.

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled


Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home.

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?

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’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 11/14/2016
Mary Addison, a black 15-year-old from Brooklyn, has been locked up in “baby jail” for six years, after allegedly killing a three-month-old white child. Now living in a group home, Mary is bright, quiet, and well behaved, which makes her the target of the more aggressive girls in the home. Her one escape is volunteering at a nursing home and having secret assignations with Ted, a fellow volunteer also living in a group home. When Mary becomes pregnant and faces losing custody of the baby, she comes forward with a startling confession: she didn’t kill Alyssa. Threaded with media accounts of Alyssa’s killing and police interviews with the nine-year-old Mary, Jackson’s debut is reminiscent of the popular true crime podcasts Serial and Criminal: the characters are complex, the situation unsettling, and the line between right and wrong hopelessly blurred. It’s also intensely relevant, addressing race, age, and mental illness within the criminal justice system. Well conceived and executed, this is an absorbing and exceptional first novel. Ages 14–up. Agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary. (Jan.)
“Seen through Jackson’s dark portrait of the legal system and the failures of parents and social workers, Mary’s environments are as grim as the stories that play out in them; readers fascinated by procedural dramas will be thoroughly hooked.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Suspenseful without being emotionally manipulative, compelling without resorting to shock value, this is a tightly spun debut that wrestles with many intense ideas and ends with a knife twist that will send readers racing back to the beginning again.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Seen through Jackson’s dark portrait of the legal system and the failures of parents and social workers, Mary’s environments are as grim as the stories that play out in them; readers fascinated by procedural dramas will be thoroughly hooked.”
Jason Reynolds
“I have to admit, it’s been a while since I’ve been this rattled by a story. Tiffany D. Jackson chips at the world, then cracks it, then shatters it into shards of discomfort and complexity for the reader to grapple with it. Allegedly, undoubtedly, will linger long after it’s over.”
Mindy McGinnis
“A well-executed, powerful journey into the claustrophobic life of a young girl trying to navigate what little is left after the world has judged her, and what she will do to escape it.”
Daniel José Older
“A riveting, gut-wrenching thriller and a stunning debut.”
Justine Larbalestier
“Tiffany Jackson’s timely and chilling debut will haunt you for a long time. An extraordinary new voice.”
School Library Journal
★ 02/01/2017
Gr 9 Up—Jackson delivers a requiem about systemic issues of injustice in this debut novel that portrays the juvenile justice system, meant to rehabilitate youth who have gone astray, and the social service system, which is intended to defend those whose rights have been infringed upon. Interwoven with case study excerpts, depositions, and inmate interviews, this gripping thriller centers on 16-year-old Mary Beth Addison, who was incarcerated for the alleged murder of a three-month-old infant. Not all of the clues point to then nine-year-old Mary's guilt, though. Now Mary is in a group home with hopes of moving into the world and maybe even to college. But she's been unable to get her birth certificate from her mother, and she needs the document to take her SATs. She's also just learned that she's pregnant, which threatens to turn her macabre existence into a permanent nightmare. Because Mary is underage and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Ted, is also in a group facility, their child will be put up for adoption after Mary gives birth, but Mary will go to any length to prevent that from happening. With remarkable skill, Jackson offers an unflinching portrayal of the raw social outcomes when youth are entrapped in a vicious cycle of nonparenting and are sent spiraling down the prison-for-profit pipeline. VERDICT This dark, suspenseful exploration of justice and perception raises important questions teens will want to discuss. An excellent selection for YA shelves.—Sabrina Carnesi, Crittenden Middle School, Newport News, VA
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-11-02
With a black mother suffering from multiple mental conditions and a possibly white father who's "N/A"—at least according to her birth certificate—15-year-old Mary B. Addison finds herself navigating the prison-industrial complex alone for allegedly killing a 3-month-old white baby. She was placed in "baby jail" at 9 under a cloud of national notoriety spawned by her case. Now she endures unremitting bullying from the staff and the other girls at the all-female group home in Brooklyn, where she lives under house arrest; the attentions of the do-gooder white female writing coach who tries to give the young women hope through words yet "knows [their] future is grim"; and the bureaucratic obstacles to get a state ID simply to take the SAT. While in this gritty environment, Mary becomes pregnant by her boyfriend, Ted, an 18-year-old black man who is also confined in the labyrinth of the penal system but later must turn to "survival sex" to maintain his shelter. The author presents all of this as a matter of fact in Mary's voice, not sensationally or, worse, exploitatively. Because of this, her novel effectively joins Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow (2010) to become another indictment of the penal system's decimating power beyond its bars and, more subtly and refreshingly, a pro-reproductive-justice novel. Searing and true. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Tiffany D. Jackson is a TV professional by day, novelist by night, awkward black girl 24/7. She received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves with her adorable Chihuahua, Oscar, most likely multitasking. You can visit her online at www.writeinbk.com.

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Allegedly 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Heather_Maclean 3 months ago
Oh this book... One of the best contemporary YAs I've read in forever although it reads just as wonderfully for an adult audience. The main character Mary is so rich and complex, and the writing so beautiful, I didn't want it to end. It shocked me all the way through, but the ending--wow! A must read!
Sandy5 6 days ago
Allegedly, a 9-year old black girl kills a 3-month old white baby that her mother was caring for. Allegedly, this baby killer had a fair and just trial and she was sentenced to jail time and is now living in a group home. Allegedly, this horrible event is in the past and soon everyone can move forward in their lives. Allegedly: (1) accused but not proven or convicted (2) asserted to be true or to exist (Merriam Webster Dictionary 2017). Definitely a five-star novel for me. The ending was fantastic, a powerful and wrenching conclusion that left me torn. I understood Mary’s position in the final pages but after everything she had lived through and endured, this ending was not what I had foreseen. Mary hadn’t disappointed me, there was no way that she could do that, it was that she took the side, I didn’t expect. Mary had made great strides in this novel. Meet Mary, a psychopathic baby killer. She’s carried this label for years, keeping to herself, trying not to be noticed, for many people had read about her story and knew her name. Mary lives in a group home, doing community service in a nursing home. Ted doesn’t know about Mary’s past. These two develop a relationship and Mary finds herself pregnant. So many things don’t add up in Mary’s life now: pregnancy, baby killer, living in a group home, Ted, Mary’s future and the bullying that occurs in that group home. Yet something sparks within Mary, a determination within her. She has a baby and she knows that with her past, this baby will likely be taken from her. It is this determination, this fire and energy that I enjoyed about this novel. It’s not glamourous what occurs as Mary tries to fight the system: the obstacles, the frustration and the pain that is felt as Mary tries to handle what is thrown at her. She must deal with the truth of her past, she must confront it and uncover it. Her current situation adds fire to the flame and I find my emotions all over the place, fighting with Mary and others as we battle it out. I highly recommend this novel.
AlexandraOtt 9 days ago
This book is such an intense, gripping read from beginning to end. There are so many unpredictable twists and turns, constantly changing everything you thought you knew. Every character is so complex, but especially Mary. It's incredibly powerful and thought-provoking. Recommend for anyone looking for a dark, twisty read!
Anonymous 27 days ago
A stunning debut. Dark. Heartbreaking. Powerful. Mary is a wonderfully complex character. Her story will catch you by the throat and not let you go until you've read the entire novel - and she'll stay with you long after you've finished. The author, Tiffany Jackson, paints a unflinching portrait of our juvenile justice system while telling a compelling story - drawing you into Mary's world, and making you question right, wrong, and everything in between. A true thriller from the start.
Sarah_UK1 27 days ago
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) “I didn’t kill Alyssa.” This was a YA contemporary story, about a teenage girl who allegedly killed a baby. I felt quite sorry for Mary in this book, being locked up for years when you did nothing wrong would be awful, and the way the other girls in the home treated her was pretty bad. The Storyline in this was about Mary discovering she was pregnant by her boyfriend Ted, and realising that because of her history she wouldn’t be allowed to keep the baby. We had Mary trying to hire a lawyer to protest her innocence and considering running away with Ted to save her baby from being adopted. This was an enjoyable story, although the number of double negatives really irritated me – “I don’t say nothing.”, “I don’t have to do nothing.”, “Nobody asked her to save nobody.” The ending to this left us with a massive twist, and I kind-of wanted to know what would happen next. 7 out of 10
JenLBW 3 months ago
Allegedly is one of those books that you go wow, this is different. The minute I was reading, I was completely absorbed and Tiffany Jackson's writing is definitely A+ for me. Wow. If you are a fan of shows like Making a Murderer, this book will blow you away. I love the way the plot develops. I immediately feel for Mary. I don’t even care what she did, I just want to save her from her terrible conditions, which stops and makes me think. Wait of course I care what she did, allegedly!! It’s really interesting the way this book is able to play on different emotions. I also loved how Tiffany Jackson paired the present day narrative with different accounts and articles from when Mary was 9 and ALLEGEDLY committed her crime. As the story moves on we start to see more present day articles as well. Really this story is a rollercoaster of emotions. There were times that I thought one and times I thought the other. Little hints here and there to the real story that made you go hmmm. Some things I expected and some I did not but overall I couldn’t put the book down. This is one of those books that I absolutely do not want to spoil anything but I can say that the relationship between Mary and her mother is definitely one of the many focuses. It’s interesting to see how the way their interactions and experiences shaped Mary. You despise her mother but there are also tidbits and hints about her as well. It builds the big picture in the end. The reason Mary hooks up with someone is kind of similar to The Innocence Project is because she is now having a baby. She is concerned that they are going to take her baby away from her due to her past conviction and now she is going to do everything in her power to stop that from happening. This of course opens the can of worms that leads us down the rabbit hole of what is true and not true. Of course we see the very ugly side of group homes as well. The other girls are all in there for different reason and it’s interesting to also see their stories as well. Especially New Girl. So much I want to say! So much I can’t say! Ahh! My mind is still turning over Allegedly. I’ve told all my friends to read it because I just want to talk about it. It’s one of those books, I can’t stop thinking about it still. It leaves a lasting impression.
AmyP 3 months ago
Couldn't put this book down! It's twisty, shocking, dark, and fabulous. And thrilling. Highly recommend!
crystallyn 3 months ago
I read this book in less than two days, so tangled up in the story that I had to find out what happens to Mary, the girl in the group home serving time for a murder of a baby - allegedly. Jackson is a master at manipulating the reader's feelings, turning everything topsy-turvy on you when you least expect it. She rips you through all the feels, all the exclamations and leaves you shattered at the end of it all. When I reached the end, it was a huge WOW moment for me. And I'm still thinking that, WOW. This is a book that I'll be thinking about for a long time to come. Tiffany Jackson has a long career ahead of her and I can't wait to read her next book!
Anonymous 3 months ago
The books I enjoy most are the ones where I feel like I'm experiencing a new world or reality, and I felt immersed in Mary's. This book is raw, honest, realistic, and gut-wrenching, not to mention a page turner. The conversational feel of it, along with the twists and turns, meant I read this book in record time. I had to get to the ending. I'm still thinking about that ending.