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 five 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? In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.
Needless to say it was a raw story, at times cringeworthy, to hear the main character's story and how she grew up in this prison-like system--dealing with the repercussions of allegedly killing this "white" baby. (The color of the skin of the baby is important to the story, which is why I'm mentioning it.)
I really felt connected to the story in that way, watching the way the character was raised, down to the way the character describes the way her mother smells--connecting the smell of her hair and food--and letting that remind her of home. I felt akin to the character. Also having it set in NY--my hometown made it that much more easy for me to enjoy.
Aside from that, there are a lot of detail filled chapters to this story, there's a lot of background to get into--so there are a lot of chapters where nothing particularly exciting happens--but I can see the reason for it.
You really get to know the characters in a personal way--their strengths and weaknesses. Their quirks, the real meat of the characters. Though I tend to not go for novels that are heavy in background, and a lot of "getting to know," time. I did quite enjoy hearing Mary's story--and when she gets pregnant, the story becomes more profound.
It's quite the story, and pretty well done. It was very interesting trying to put all the pieces together, all to find out I was wrong. The ending was superb and I will say I didn't see it coming. The author had me fooled, and I am truly a sucker for a good ending. So, thumbs up for that.
It's not a whodunit mystery, so don't expect a lot of intrigue, but there's definitely some questions to be asked and by the end you'll have you answers. Some of you will be pleased, some may not--but for a debut novel, it's pretty darn good.
Great for people who like their novels real with a lot of detail. A worthwhile read.
Mary was a very interesting character. She was failed by so many adults in her life and was just trying to survive until she could find a way out. She was extremely smart but because of what she’d been accused of not many adults saw beyond her alleged crime to see the girl. When Mary found out she was pregnant, for the first time she had reason to speak up about what really happened that night.
There weren’t many bright spots in the supporting cast, not that they were badly written characters but they were horrible people. The other girls in the home were bullies, the women who ran the home only did enough to stay open, Mary went through many social workers who took little interest in her case. There were a couple women who gave her hope and treated her with kindness, a highlight in her story.
I loved the way the author used devices like police interviews, newspaper and book exerts, court depositions to show what had happened the night Mary allegedly killed baby Alyssa and how people believed she was guilty. I finished this book quickly, not because it was an easy read, but because I wanted to know the truth. It was definitely a book that will stay with me.