Written by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by Katherine Tegen Books, January 24, 2017
My star rating: 4.25 stars
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? 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? Add to Goodreads
Oh. My. God. This book. This book broke my heart. And not just a little bit either. I’m talking total devastation. And the worst part is that it didn’t happen all at once. As bits of information were revealed about this story I felt like chunks of my heart were being hammered away, little by little. I would recover from something just to have my shoulders slump all over again a few minutes later as I learned another piece of this story. If you’ve ever even considered reading this book – just do it (sorry Nike) – you won’t regret it. READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!! Okay, I’ll stop yelling at you….. but only if you read this book!
In the beginning we meet Mary as she’s dealing with her life in a group home. She has been accused of killing a baby (allegedly) at the age of 9 and was sent to “baby jail”. A convicted killer at the age of 9, the legal system didn’t honestly know what to do with her. Society was obviously outraged at the small sentence she received (she is an under aged minor after all) wanting her to be in prison for the rest of her life, or even the death penalty. Even her own mother seemed to want nothing to do with her daughter claiming that she had been taken by the devil.
Being in jail at such a young age she was mistreated in every way possibly. We have a young girl who (allegedly) murdered a baby so they wanted to be tough on her yet there was never anything in place to assist her. There was no school even though interviews of her teachers prove that she was at least 2 grades above her level before the (alleged) murder, there was no play, no parents, no compassion. To “protect” her she was basically locked in a room by herself to stop the other prisoners from harming her. Then, after baby jail, she moves to a group home where she has some bits of freedom and a job, but she’s still dealing with pain, abuse and more. Her life has been hell. And there’s so much more to all of this. What happened to this poor girl from the time she was born is just awful. But this treatment is the only thing she’s ever known. And after trying so hard for so long and getting nowhere, you just give up, knowing that you’re not important. You start justifying other peoples actions like they’re normal or that you deserved it…. but it’s not and you don’t. Not a single person showed her compassion or love. Ugh this book hit me in the feels that I didn’t even know I had!!
Her mother….. there’s so much that I want to say but I won’t ruin anything if you plan to read this. A cold hearted manipulative bitch is summing it up nicely. She would come to the group home every other weekend for 15 minutes, talk about herself, and move on. But she knew exactly what to say and do to manipulate her daughters feeling and actions. I just can’t even with this woman.
Now I’m sure you’ve noticed that I keep mentioning the word ‘allegedly’. Yes it’s the book title but there’s more of a reason to it. Mary has been convicted of this crime and serves her time, but throughout the entire book we have no clue what happened that night. We don’t know who did it, how, or why. So the author continuously uses the word allegedly throughout because we as the reader have no clue. I normally hate being the “in the dark reader” but it was done very well.
Also I LOVED that along with the narrative, we get snippets of magazine articles and newspaper articles, and interviews with police, prison guards, teachers, psychologists, social services, and her mothers coworkers. Each and every one was different, depending on which situation they were focusing on. Mary herself has no clue what any of these include as she had been in “baby jail” the whole time so it’s interesting to see those along with the story line.
I think this book did a very good job covering the trust issues a person can have after being mistreated for so long, and also showing the injustices to those who are in the system. Though I’ve never been in jail or arrested or anything, so my opinion on this doesn’t really matter. But from an outsiders perspective of this, I’m glad to see this book shed some light on the negative sides of the system. At one point in the book someone looks through her file to see if she was receiving the court appointed assistance such as assessments, counselling, schooling, etc. and there wasn’t a single person that visited her. The court was appointed help for this young girl and no one cared or bothered to even show up. And after years of being mistreated and unheard, she was obviously unable to trust a soul. Why would someone help or listen to her when they NEVER have? What do they want from her? What are they trying to take away from her. The fact that she’s been beat down (physically and mentally) for years is what made this book so hard. She is so tortured and broken but all of this and sees the world in a very different way because of it.
Long story short – I had this book on my radar for the longest time and finally decided to give it a shot. What happened was nothing short of impactful. This is a story that will make me think for a long time to come. So many twists and turns in the case, messing with your mind as you question if you have this case figured out. I thought I had it figured out…… boy was I wrong!! I HIGHLY recommend this one! If there was ever a book this year that surprised me and I think is underrated – IT’S THIS ONE!! Someone please read this book!!!
Until next time, happy reading!