Looking for JJ

Looking for JJ

4.3 18
by Anne Cassidy
     
 

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Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of town toward Berwick Waters. Later that day, only two of them came back. . . . Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago, though it's still hard for her to believe it. She'll never be able to forget, even though she's trying to lead a normal life—she has a job, friends, and

Overview

Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of town toward Berwick Waters. Later that day, only two of them came back. . . . Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago, though it's still hard for her to believe it. She'll never be able to forget, even though she's trying to lead a normal life—she has a job, friends, and a boyfriend whom she adores. But Alice's past is dangerous, and violent, and sad . . . and it's about to rip her new life apart. Includes a reader's guide.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Dark, chilling and clever."—Celia Rees, author of The Wish House and Blood Sinister
"Compassionate, unsensational and unflinching."—The Guardian (London)
"A skillful tale. . . . The ethical issues and solid, suspenseful storytelling provide many discussion possibilities."—Booklist
"A sympathetic look at someone who has done the unspeakable and now has to live with the results."—KLIATT

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Growing up in today's media-driven world, teenagers may be forgiven for thinking that everyone's life is public property. Reporters and photographers relentlessly pursue the individuals involved in a scandal until names like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears become household names. Anne Cassidy, the author of Looking for JJ, gets an A+ for exploring the price of our passion for scandal, revealing that the effects of such unwanted attention are far more insidious than you'd think.

Looking for JJ is the story of Alice Tully, a 17-year-old who works in a coffee shop, lives in an apartment, has an attentive boyfriend, and is looking forward to starting college. She's a regular teenager, except for her obsession with a particular news story. Seven years earlier, 10-year-old Jennifer Jones was convicted of murdering a friend, and news reports are surfacing that Jennifer, having served her time, was released from prison under an assumed identity. Reporters and private detectives are determined to find the former Jennifer -- which terrifies Alice, because she is Jennifer.

A sophisticated read, Looking for JJ raises numerous moral issues. Is Jennifer's upbringing an excuse for her criminal behavior? Should she be able to "walk away" from her past? And does the public have a right to know where she is now? One thing is certain: After reading Looking for JJ, you'll never look at a juicy tabloid the same way again. (Holiday 2007 Selection)
Publishers Weekly

British novelist Cassidy's well-crafted tale of crime and punishment delves into the mind of a child killer and explores the path she takes once she repays her debt to society. Jennifer Jones, nicknamed JJ, never knew her father and was repeatedly emotionally abused and abandoned by her mother. One hot morning, when she is 10, she takes a walk to a nearby reservoir with two friends and returns hours later, leaving one friend behind forever. After spending six years in custody, Jennifer is released, given an alias and helped to forge a new life, but her past stands resolutely in her way. The story unfolds in present time with flashbacks blended seamlessly into the narrative, neatly fueling the growing suspense. When the full details of the murder are revealed, the moment is shocking in its simplicity. Cassidy consistently demonstrates that the abuse inflicted upon Jennifer during her childhood has left her detached, incapable of experiencing a range of emotions and doubting herself deserving of happiness and love. While psychologically astute, this portrayal keeps readers at a distance. It falls instead to the novel's structure, with its well-timed revelations, and to a finely tuned story line about the cat-and-mouse-games that the media plays with Jennifer, to hold the audience's interest. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Caroline B. Hopenwasser
Can you escape your past? Jenifer Jones (currently known as Alice) is desperately trying to do just that. Six years ago, when they were both ten years old, she murdered her best friend. After serving time in prison for her crime, J.J. is freed and begins a new life with a new identity. She makes plans to attend college while working at the local coffee shop, dating a boy and leading a seemingly normal life. However, her normalcy ends when she is discovered by a reporter who threatens to expose her identity. Cassidy weaves past and present together to reveal what led this little girl to murder and how she has worked to heal her life. The matter-of-fact style in which events unfold keeps the story from being over-sensationalized or brutal. You find yourself caring for Jennifer deeply and hoping that she can overcome the horrible circumstances of her youth. The reader is left with a sense of hope that she will be successful. Reviewer: Caroline B. Hopenwasser
VOYA - Erin Wyatt
Six years after Jennifer Jones was put in detention for killing her friend as a ten-year-old, she is being released. The British press is fascinated by her story. Alice Tully follows the story closely as well, because up until a few months ago, she was Jennifer Jones. Alice was placed in a home with caretaker Rosie and had her identity changed to give her a chance at a normal life and a new beginning. When her identity is discovered and her mother shows up to try to exploit her once again, her life turns upside down as Alice wonders about what type of life she deserves, if any. The narrative is cleverly structured as the reader gets to know Alice first with fragments of how Jennifer was brought up and neglected by her mother infused through flashbacks. It is close to the end of the story when the details of the day at Berwick Waters when the killing took place are finally revealed. Readers will come to care about this character and her ability to find her way in the world after a rough start. This book raises questions of identity, responsibility, family, and healing. Alice struggles with the question of whether she deserves to be happy and to have a life after what she has done in her past.
Kirkus Reviews
Why would one child kill another? Are such children monsters? What happens to them when they get older? This disturbing British import explores these questions as it alternates between the past and present of a 17-year-old known as Alice Tully. Alice lives a quiet life near London, working at a coffee shop, staying with a social worker and dating a local student. She is actually Jennifer Jones, convicted six years earlier of killing a friend. The story slowly unfolds of her bleak childhood with a neglectful, ultimately abusive, single mother. In the present, Alice struggles to make a fresh start and to avoid newspaper reporters obsessed with Jennifer's parole and secret identity. She longs hopelessly for a sense that her estranged mother loves her, despite a history of betrayals. Cassidy masterfully builds tension and jolts readers with plot twists. She evokes sympathy for a troubled child who becomes a teenager with a grim future and raises questions about who is responsible when a ten-year-old commits a violent crime. Compelling, thought-provoking crime fiction. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152066383
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/06/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
785,475
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

one

Everyone was looking for Jennifer Jones. She was dangerous, the newspapers said. She posed a threat to children and should be kept behind bars. The public had a right to know where she was. Some of the weekend papers even resurrected the old headline: a life for a life!

Alice Tully read every article she could find. Her boyfriend, Frankie, was bemused. He couldn’t understand why she was so fascinated. He put his arm around her shoulder and dipped his mouth into her neck while she was reading. Alice tried to push him away, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer and in the end the newspaper crumpled and slipped onto the ground.

Alice couldn’t resist Frankie. He was bigger and taller than she, but that wasn’t difficult. Most people were. Alice was small and thin and often bought her clothes cheaply in the children’s section of clothes shops. Frankie was a giant beside her, and he liked to pick her up and carry her around, especially if they were having an argument. It was his way of making up.

She was lucky to have him.

She much preferred to read the articles about Jennifer Jones when she was on her own. It meant waiting until Rosie, the woman she lived with, was out at work. It gave her plenty of time. Rosie worked long hours. She was a social worker and had a lot of clients to see. In any case, the stories about Jennifer Jones weren’t around all the time. They came in waves. Sometimes they roared from the front page, the headlines bold and demanding. Sometimes they were tiny, a column on an inside page, a nugget of gossip floating on the edge of the news, hardly causing a ripple of interest.

When the killing first happened, the news was in every paper for months. The trial had thrown up dozens of articles from all angles. The events on that terrible day at Berwick Waters. The background. The home lives of the children. The school reports. The effects on the town. The law regarding children and murder. Some of the tabloids focused on the seedier side: the attempts to cover up the crime; the details of the body; the lies told by the children. Alice Tully hadn’t seen any of these at the time. She had been too young. In the past six months, though, she had read as much as she could get her hands on, and the question that lay under every word that had ever been printed was the same: How could a ten-year-old girl kill another child?
In the weeks leading up to the ninth of June, Alice Tully’s seventeenth birthday, the stories started again. Jennifer Jones had finally been released. She had served six years for murder (the judge had called it manslaughter but that was just a nice word). She had been let out on license, which meant that she could be called back to prison at any time. She had been relocated somewhere far from where she was brought up. She had a new identity and no one would know who she was and what she had done.

Alice fell hungrily on these reports, just as she sat coiled up and tense in front of Rosie’s telly, using her thumb to race past the satellite channels, catching every bit of footage of the Jennifer Jones case. The news programs still used the only photograph that there had ever been of the ten-year-old. A small girl with long hair and bangs, a frowning expression on her face. JJ was the little girl’s nickname. The journalists loved it. It made Alice feel weak just to look at it.

On the morning of her birthday, Rosie woke her up with a birthday card and present.

“Here, sleepyhead.”

Alice opened her eyes and looked upward at Rosie. She had her dark suit on and the white striped blouse she always wore with it. Her hair was tied back off her face, making her look serious and stern. Instead of her usual hanging earrings she was wearing gold studs. It was not the way Rosie liked to dress.

“Don’t tell me, you’re in court today!” Alice said, sitting up, stretching her arms out, ruffling her fingers through her own short hair.

“You guessed it!” Rosie said. “Here, take this, birthday girl!”

Alice took the present while Rosie walked to the window and pushed it open. A light breeze wafted in, lifting the net curtains. Alice pulled the duvet tight, up to her neck.

“Do you want to freeze me to death?” she said, jokingly.

Rosie took no notice. She loved fresh air. She spent a lot of her time opening windows, and Alice spent a lot of time closing them.

Inside the wrapping paper was a small box, the kind that held jewelry. For a moment Alice was worried. Rosie’s taste in jewelry was a bit too artsy for her. She lifted the lid off gingerly and saw a pair of tiny gold earrings.

“These are lovely,” Alice said, and felt a strange lump in her throat.

“More your taste than mine,” Rosie said, looking in Alice’s wall mirror and pulling at her jacket, using the flats of her hands to smooth out her skirt. She looked uncomfortable.

Alice got out of bed and stood beside her. She held an earring up to one ear and nodded approvingly. Then she squeezed Rosie’s arm.

“You’re on lates this week?” Rosie said.

Alice nodded. She didn’t have to be at work until ten.

“I’ll be home early. So I’m going to cook a special meal,” Rosie said. “And it’s not only your birthday we’re celebrating. Next Saturday, you’ll have been here for six months!”

That was true. Six months of waking up every morning in that bedroom, of eating in Rosie’s kitchen, of seeing her name on letters: alice tully, 52 phillip street, croydon.

“My mum’s coming. What about Frankie?”

Rosie had been making a special cake that had been hidden from Alice. Her mother, Kathy, a funny Irish woman, was helping her.

“He can’t come.”

She didn’t bother to explain. Frankie said he felt awkward around Rosie, as though she were watching him, waiting to tell him off every time he touched Alice. He preferred it when they were alone.

“Oh well. It’ll be just the three of us then.”

After Rosie left, Alice sat on her bed holding the earrings and looking at her card. There would be nothing from her mother, she knew that. She sat very still for a moment, aware of her own body, trying to read her own sensations. Was she upset? She had other presents and cards. She had Frankie and her friends from the Coffee Pot. Then there was Rosie herself. Rosie with her powerful hug and no-nonsense manner; Rosie who smelled of lemons and garlic and basil and who was always trying to fatten her up. Dear, sweet Rosie. Alice hadn’t known that such people existed.

The sound of the letter box distracted her. She got up and took her card over to the mantelpiece and stood it up. Then she walked downstairs to the front door where the morning paper was sticking through the letter box. She pulled it out, taking care not to graze it or tear the pages, and took it back up to the kitchen. Without looking she laid it down on the kitchen table and got on with making her breakfast. She tipped out some cereal and poured milk into her bowl. One teaspoon of sugar was all she wanted. Then she got out the orange juice and poured herself exactly half a glass. Where eating was concerned she had a routine. She wasn’t fussed about her weight or her shape. She just ate what she wanted and no amount of persuasion from anyone was going to change that.

She sat down and flattened the newspaper. There it was again, the headline she had expected.

JENNIFER JONES FREE AFTER SIX YEARS

Is this justice?

FONT-FAMILY: Times; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'" Her wrist trembled as she lowered her spoon into the bowl and scooped up some cereal. The story was the same as every other one that she had read over the last weeks. Should Jennifer have been released? Should she stay in Britain? Is she a danger to children? Then there was the revenge angle: Would the dead girl’s parents try to find Jennifer?

As ever, the newspaper gave a brief outline of the story of that day at Berwick Waters. Alice read it. It was just like all the others. She had read them all. If anyone had asked she could have probably recited it by heart.

A bright blue day in May, six years before. The sun was staring down from the sky, but a sharp breeze bothered the bushes and flowers, bending them this way and that. When it died down, the sun’s glare was heavy, and for a fleeting moment it might have seemed like a midsummer day.

Copyright © Anne Cassidy, 2004

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Meet the Author

Anne Cassidy started writing 15 years ago and is a well known author of several novels for teens, including Looking for JJ, Missing Judy, Talking to Strangers, Tough Love, and Birthday Blues. Looking for JJ was shortlisted for bot the Whitbread award and the Carnegie Medal and won the Booktrust Teenage Book Award in 2004.

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Looking for JJ 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
How well do you know the people around you? How do you know they are not hiding a huge secret like their past?

This is the second book I've read recently that casts light on how murderers who are children fit into society after serving time for their crime. Anne Cassidy's new book, LOOKING FOR JJ, will keep your interest until the very end. Not only does the author give details about what happened but she lays the framework as to possible causes of why it happened -- because that is just as important. I actually found myself feeling sorry for Jennifer, the girl who committed the crime, wishing it hadn't happened to her.

Michele Livingstone is dead. She died six years ago at the hands of her friend, JJ. Jennifer Jones has paid for what happened to Michele. There is no denying that Jennifer is responsible for Michele's death, but while reading the book I came to the conclusion that she wasn't the only one to blame. Is there one thing that controls when and how aggressive someone becomes? I really believe that genetic factors may contribute to behavior, but if a child is engaging in delinquent behavior it is probably due to peer influences and lapses in parenting.

Jen's home life while growing up wasn't exactly the "Leave it to Beaver" atmosphere. Her mom certainly wouldn't win any parenting awards and from an early age Jen learned how to get by on her own, alone. Craving love, it is understandable that Jennifer had anger issues. The question is can people change? Can violent deeds of the past be forgiven with the passage of time?

Jennifer is about to be released from jail and the press has made it front page news once again. Is JJ still a danger to other children? Where is she going to live now? Will the family of the dead girl try to get revenge?

Alice Tully, like everyone else, follows the stories in the paper with keen interest. The only thing is that Alice knows something no one else does. She knows where Jennifer Jones is. Only three other people know her whereabouts. What is the connection between Alice Tully and Jennifer Jones? Why does Alice live in constant fear? Who is Alice Tully exactly? Read the book to find out.....
Chilsd More than 1 year ago
This was pretty moving. I sort of liked the ending. leaves a sad and lasting taste of the harshness she went threw
AmberSue More than 1 year ago
Kudos to a book that keeps you reading! Even as a suspect in a murder, JJ is as innocent as ever, no matter what people may believe. Cassidy shows what life is like for JJ after a terrible accident during her childhood years. this was a great book, and I'd recommend it to young readers who love a good mystery.
depressedreader More than 1 year ago
I read this book a while ago and I remember it being pretty good :] the writing format is really good!! Moving from her past and present...it gives the reader a more understand of the main character's past and her as a person. It is really intersting and it is hard to put this book down!! The only thing I didn't like about this book was the ending. It really made me mad and it was kind of bleh. There was this huge build up and suspence in the climax but the resolution just leaves you disapounted. Still...overall this is a great book!! and I totally recommend it!
Zelda More than 1 year ago
I had expected something different going into this book but still enjoyed it and had a hard time putting it down. It's interesting how the mother and daughter react to each other through the book and how nothing is really how it seems.
Athletic-Bookworm More than 1 year ago
It was ok. The ending was a little....unsatisfying, with the huge climax build-up. I liked it, but there wasn't much closure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking For JJ, Although i enjoyed the writing style that Anne Cassidy uses and the ease with which it flows from past to present, i would classify this book as a good read for a rainy day. when i initally picked up the book i was in the mood for a mystery, although there is some mystery involved i would analyze this story as an identiy crisis caused by doemstic abuse. The writing style of the book made me eager to read more, however the story was highly depressing. After after such a build up to the climax i found the ending dissapointing and abrupt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved it!!! it was very mysterious that keeps you on the edge of you seat wanting to find out what haunts this womans past.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok i don't read much but when my mum picked up this book i thpought id give it a go! i have never reawd a book with so many twists and turns and suspense!! read it, i no you'll love it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maybe a bit creepy but I coudn't stop reading it! If you don't like I am surprised.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read this book on audiobook and I have to tell you, it gave me a case of the heebie-jeebies and even after reading it in print at least 7 different times, it still does. In a good way. Anne Cassidy writes so well that I can see everything happening and the book effortlessly flows from present to past, from one generation to another, both times hungery for more JJ. This is one of those rare books that reflects a society with realism and truth and has the ability to change the way you percieve the good and the bad, right and wrong. This book is beautiful and enchanting, a book that will pull you in and stick with you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OMG!!! This book is amazing. It has the best plot and is very suspenceful! I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
How well do you know the people around you? How do you know they are not hiding a huge secret like their past? This is the second book I¿ve read recently that casts light on how murderers who are children fit into society after serving time for their crime. Anne Cassidy¿s new book, LOOKING FOR JJ, will keep your interest until the very end. Not only does the author give details about what happened but she lays the framework as to possible causes of why it happened -- because that is just as important. I actually found myself feeling sorry for Jennifer, the girl who committed the crime, wishing it hadn¿t happened to her. Michele Livingstone is dead. She died six years ago at the hands of her friend, JJ. Jennifer Jones has paid for what happened to Michele. There is no denying that Jennifer is responsible for Michele¿s death, but while reading the book I came to the conclusion that she wasn¿t the only one to blame. Is there one thing that controls when and how aggressive someone becomes? I really believe that genetic factors may contribute to behavior, but if a child is engaging in delinquent behavior it is probably due to peer influences and lapses in parenting. Jen¿s home life while growing up wasn¿t exactly the ¿Leave it to Beaver¿ atmosphere. Her mom certainly wouldn¿t win any parenting awards and from an early age Jen learned how to get by on her own, alone. Craving love, it is understandable that Jennifer had anger issues. The question is can people change? Can violent deeds of the past be forgiven with the passage of time? Jennifer is about to be released from jail and the press has made it front page news once again. Is JJ still a danger to other children? Where is she going to live now? Will the family of the dead girl try to get revenge? Alice Tully, like everyone else, follows the stories in the paper with keen interest. The only thing is that Alice knows something no one else does. She knows where Jennifer Jones is. Only three other people know her whereabouts. What is the connection between Alice Tully and Jennifer Jones? Why does Alice live in constant fear? Who is Alice Tully exactly? Read the book to find out¿.. **Reviewed by: coollibrarianchick
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very good. I like the set up of it!!! If you like these kinds of book than you should read it!!!!