WHAT I LIKED
The characters are real
The characters' talk and mannerisms look like real people in urban communities. I'm a teacher in an urban school district (with a predominantly Hispanic and black population), and it was refreshing to read about teenagers who look and act like my students.
It feels weird to be happy about having real characters. I wish that we had more minority authors and more books with real minority characters whose lives reflect those of living, breathing minorities.
Mary has big dreams
There's a stereotype nowadays that you can't have a baby and pursue your dreams. Mary is pregnant, wants to keep her baby (and take care of him eventually), and she hasn't given up on her dreams of going to college. #rolemodel #respect
It talks about real issues
There are issues on top of issues on top of issues, some of which I've listed in the content section at the end of this review (so no spoilers right now). This novel gets into the heart of urban life, and unfortunately when you have one issue, there's bound to be more. I love how Jackson isn't afraid to get real with us.
It stabs you in the heart while you're down ...and then some
This novel doesn't pull any punches. It packs quite the emotional punch, and it will keep stabbing you in your bleeding heart. You will feel for Mary as the whole universe seems to turn against her. Or you'll hate her too and wonder why the world is such a terrible place. Either way, your world will be shaken.
Welcome to Planet Earth.
There are good people in this world
Allegedly might remind us that the world is a terrible place, but it remembers that there are (a few) good people out there. And that we should fight for the better good for the sake of our children.
(Seeing Mary fight so hard for her baby really made me attached to the little bean.)
What's up with that ending?
After everything this novel put me thought . . . that ending was really crazy and messed up. Mentally (because I don't scream at fictional characters in real life), I was screaming no no no no no nononoononononono). How can you do that to us???
At the same time, I respect—to a certain extent—Jackson's decision to end the novel this way. Because real life doesn't wrap our stories perfectly or top it with a pretty ribbon. In real life, Prince Charming isn't there to sweep us off our feet and carry us away on a white horse (...okay, that's just kidnapping now). Our mothers won't know exactly who to call to give us a happily ever after (except maybe treat us to a girl's day out, but that's a temporary fix).
Therefore, I can be okay with the ending even if I wasn't really happy with it.
WHAT I DISLIKED
Cuss words go off like fireworks
I know I know. I said that I like how the characters talk and act like real people. I'm still not comfortable with the language (and I know for a fact that my students kindly watch their language around me).
Cuss words go off like fireworks in this novel, and they don't stop. If you're not comfortable with a few d**ns, s**ts, and b***hes, then you might want to seriously reconsider this novel because it gets much worse.
This world is filled with terrible people
We learn that there are a few good people (albeit with their own agendas). We also learn that there are many, many more terrible people. It left a bad feeling in my gut. (Really? Really?)
This novel is important because it pulls off the blinds and doesn't put up pretty lace curtains to make us feel better. I still wish that we had a more conclusive outcome in which good could prevail, but it does leave food for thought . . . perhaps there isn't an answer yet, and we're being challenged to go out there and make one.
Fake religion is the new face mask
It's becoming increasingly popular to beat on religion. Not going to lie, it's getting pretty tiring to see stereotypical Bible beaters who act all goody two shoes in front of authority figures but act a different way in private. Some of the best people I know are devout Christians who live out biblical truths.
Note: I recognize that this is a stereotype for a reason, that there really are people like the Bible beater in this novel. It doesn't mean that I agree with it.
What's up with that ending?
The novel introduces us the mystery of what really happened that night and draws us closer and closer to it . . . only to bring us an ending that is questionably an ending.
Mary makes some decisions that unravels everything I thought I knew about her (which might have been the point?) and leaves me wondering what's going to happen to everyone else. It feels like most everyone was set up to fall and that Mary is the only one who's going to be happy with the "final" outcome, whatever it may be.
(And, no, there won't be a sequel; this is a standalone.)
Allegedly brings much-need diversity to the YA book market. I appreciate how Jackson isn't afraid to tackle heavy topics. That said, this isn't a novel to read if you're seeking character growth. The supporting characters end up falling through (or being kicked out of the picture by the MC, who doesn't seem to have any use for anyone who doesn't follow her agenda). The mature content is also a turn-off because of its pervasive, unavoidable nature.
THIS NOVEL IS NOT FOR THE YOUNG OR FAINT OF HEART!!!
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 church-going 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?
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What is a book that made you feel like you were reading about yourself? Do you feel more at home with contemporary or fantasy books?
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. All thoughts expressed are my personal honest opinions.