Book Review: Allegedly

After loving Monday’s Not Coming I just had to try the other audiobook of Tiffany D. Jackson that my library had. That book is Allegedly, her debut. It is a Young Adult mystery / thriller with very, very dark themes, and it worked well in audio format. Did I really expect to pick up a book about a girl that allegedly killed a baby when she was nine years old? Not really. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

Star rating: 4 stars

Mary B. Addison killed a baby when she was just 9 years old, or so they think. She lived in baby jail for 6 years, before ending up in a group home with other girls that committed crimes of varying severity. The book delves into Mary’s past through various interviews and records from after she killed Alyssa, along with Mary’s only reflections on what happened. I loved this multiple source approach to Mary’s character, it was difficult to tell what the truth was.

Mary has a complicated relationship with her mother, and this is one of the main things the book centres on. She was often neglected as a child, and her mother had an abusive boyfriend who assaulted Mary too. Mary’s mother visits her every couple of weeks at the group home, displaying signs of mental illness.

Group home life isn’t easy for Mary – her story is famous (there are books about it and it is studied in law schools) so the other girls don’t like her. She spends her time reading and prepping for the SATs, hoping to make a better life for herself despite her criminal record. She also volunteers at a nursing home, where she meets Ted, her secret boyfriend (a very morally grey boyfriend, to be honest).

At the beginning of the book, Mary finds out she’s pregnant and it changes her mindset on what she was accused of as a child, wanting to prove herself innocent so her child is not taken away from her. Mary meets sympathisers and haters throughout the story and I found myself as a reader torn about her character. The book is really thought-provoking in terms of personal morals and ethics.

Overall this is an exceptional debut, and I appreciated the story being told through audio. It was a bit long and repetitive at times, but I was really desperate to know what the ending would be!

Thanks for reading, hope everyone is doing well. I’m in lockdown again, which means working from home a lot. Keep safe.

Book Review: Monday’s Not Coming

So in true jump straight into your goals, I listened to an audiobook from the library! We won’t mention that I listened to a 10 hour audiobook in ten days but this one was really addictive and I enjoyed the narration which is a rarity. Monday’s Not Coming is a crime / mystery YA novel by Tiffany D. Jackson. It includes grief, child abuse, and the realities of friendship in your teens.

Star rating: 5 stars

When Claudia’s best friend Monday doesn’t turn up at school, she’s really confused. There’s no answer when she calls her, and the school office says she’s not a registered student anymore. But Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable, so Claudia begins to worry but nobody else seems to care.

What follows is split into 3 parts. The Before (when Monday is missing but before Claudia knows why), The After, and Before the Before, exploring Claudia’s friendship with Monday. It was really clear which time period was which in the audiobook which I really appreciated.

The two girls have grown up in two vastly different environments – Claudia’s parents are protective and supportive and she’s an only child. Monday has lots of siblings, her Mom is a single parent and Claudia’s never been to her place. The book shows the inequality through Claudia’s young eyes, who doesn’t really understand why her friend is the way she is. Claudia even imagines that Monday has her own bedroom with nice decoration, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Nobody cares when girls like Monday disappear. Claudia tries to explain her worries to so many adults throughout the book, and none really give her the time of day. But when Claudia is missing for a few hours, her parents have the whole church out looking for her.

Claudia ends up talking to Monday’s older sister April a fair bit, and starts to wonder if she knew Monday at all. Monday had to mature so much quicker than Claudia and her experiences are really traumatic. I think everything Claudia discovers is even more damaging to her mental health because she’s so sheltered and innocent.

Overall this is a shocking book that is just so sad. Reading it you just want to slap all of the adults who don’t care. Girls going missing shouldn’t be normal, and they shouldn’t be ignored. I think listening to the audiobook made it even more emotional for me as the narrator had such a young voice.

Have you read any books by Tiffany D. Jackson? I really want to pick up Grown at some point, hopefully my library gets it soon because I’d like to listen to it.