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review 2017-05-10 19:50
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson

When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued. Allegedly is about a black girl named Mary who was convicted of killing a three-month-old white baby when she was only nine-years-old. The story follows her life of imprisonment to when she is sixteen-years-old and gets pregnant herself. Now she must prove to the criminal justice system that she is a capable loving mother so they won't take her child away from her to put him in foster care. 

 

That premise alone was so enticing to me. I wanted to see how Tiffany D. Jackson was going to cover the subject of race, especially when it comes to a serious topic such as murder and the justice system. I wanted to know what happened to Mary when she was young that ended up with a baby being killed. I was interested in finding out so, naturally, when I saw this book at my library, I decided to bring it home... and I was utterly disappointed.

 

Let's start with the only positive comment I have for this book. The writing. Jackson clearly has talent. She was able to weave a story about a girl and the unfairness of her trial because of her race. And that, I feel, makes this story an interesting one. I managed to read this book in one sitting because it was an engaging read. Her writing is strong and I can see her improving as time goes on and I hope she does continue to write.

 

Now on to things I did not like about this book. Most of them having to do with the perpetuation of stigmas. The main one being of mental illness. There's already the belief that anyone with a mental illness will become murderers at some point. That stereotype is not only false but it's dangerous. For the one who has a mental illness and the people who surround them. Mental illness is something many people must live with, but with therapy and (sometimes) medication, they can live happy and healthy lives. What this book mentions is that mental illness gets you into trouble. You end up hurting maybe even killing people. Especially the people you love. And I do not agree with that sentiment. As I've said, there are many people living with a mental illness that are able to live happy lives. And I understand that the characters in this book have harsh lives, I do. But almost all the characters in this book have a mental disorder and they all end up wanting to hurt someone. Not one person with a mental illness in this book is shown to be a good person. They are all "crazy." That is harmful representation. It uses a stigma that's already well ingrained into our society and further enhances that stigma without challenging it one bit.

 

Another problem I have with the book is the fat-shaming. Every time someone that was slightly overweight, the main character had to call them disgusting. She mentioned that how she couldn't understand why people wouldn't change their diet if they were over two hundred pounds. And there are other times when she just says really nasty things when it came to people's weight. There's also quite a bit of homophobic slurs spread throughout the book in reference to one of the girls who stays at the group home with Mary. The worst part about these two horrendous actions is that it is never challenged within the text. Much like with mental illness, the book further adds to the notion that people who are fat or people who are gay are disgusting. That they are going to "rot in hell." And not once does the main character or another character question it. Meaning they agree with such toxic sentiments.

 

Last thing I want to cover is how there were a lot of unnecessary scenes throughout the book. One is the mutilation of a cat. Why? Why kill the cat? Especially if you're not going to do anything with it. We don't even find out who killed the cat. It's just there to be there. The cat-killing scene served no purpose to the plot whatsoever. I guess it was there just to show that the girls in the group home are "crazy." Another thing that was unnecessary is introducing Sarah, making her to be Mary's (only) friend, just to take that away. Because Mary doesn't have enough to deal with, let's add "crazy" best friend to that list. Oh, and the fact that Mary's only solace is in a man's arms? Really? A man that helped his friends rape a girl? A man who cheats on her? A man who claims he loves her but does everything to contradict that? Not to mention he shows signs of being abusive. There are times when he and Mary get in an argument and he forcefully grabs her and pushes her against walls. But is that ever challenge? No. Mary LIKES that he's being forceful with her. She even says so in the text! So not only does this book maintain the ideas that mental illness, fat-shaming, and homophobia are okay, it's also advocating for abusive relationships. All these aspects are what really ruin the book for me.

 

There's so many things that I don't like about this book. Everything that I mention are the main reasons why this book rubbed me the wrong way. I could go into further details, especially when it comes to Mary because she's another reason why this book didn't work for me, but that will reveal some things about the ending that I don't want to spoil in case you still want to read the book. I will just say that the negatives outshine the positive.

 

If you still want to read this book, go ahead. Like I said, the writing is actually pretty good. Just remember there's rape, strong language, murder, violence to every degree manageable, fat-shaming, homophobia, and domestic abuse. If you're okay with reading about those things, then give this book a read. I hope it enjoy it a lot more than I did.

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review 2017-03-22 00:00
Allegedly
Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson What a terrific suspenseful and disturbing debut novel by Tiffany D Jackson.

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

First of all I loved the cover and Title of this novel.

I really enjoyed this well written thriller with it's complex and disturbing characters and realistic plot. Classified as YA novel which I was a bit wary about at first but this was entertaining and suspenseful and a real page turner. This is the sort of thriller that pulls you in from page one and you just want to rally to the end to find out what happened. I would never have picked up this book if I had not read really encouraging reviews from my trusted Goodread friends.

I listened to this one on audio and the narrator did a great job, but I still cant help wishing I had a hard copy of this book instead.
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review 2017-03-18 16:35
Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson

Initial reaction: Long review coming probably sometime tomorrow when I can meditate on my end thoughts on the novel, which are complex and conflicted. This...may not be a book for everyone to read.

This book had me emotionally shaken and vexed on so many levels, that I don't even know where to begin. *sighs* I will say - to the narrative's credit - that it's well written, emotionally raw, and Mary's experiences come across as very true to life experiences for incarcerated minority youth for much of the book (not all of it, but a good portion). Tiffany Jackson gets the emotional intimacy and connection of characterizations for this book spot on. The tension in this book is so palpable that I found myself caught between putting the book down and picking it back up eager to read what happens in Mary's overarching case. It's a dark read and thought provoking in many places. At first I thought that this narrative would be something akin to reading the narrative "Push" by Sapphire, because the tone of the narrative felt like that to start (and interestingly enough, the narrative mentions Mary reading it at one point.) The aforementioned book was a rough read for me on its own but I appreciated it because of the real horrors and story told in that vein. This book doesn't go in that direction, but the emotional/physical abuse and fear that Mary endures in places is rage inducing and makes you feel for the character.

If you're sensing a lingering "but" to those notations, you would be hitting the needlepoint spot on. I sincerely want to pretend that ending (and certain events close to the ending) doesn't exist. While I don't mind having the rug pulled out from under me in an apt mystery/thriller, this didn't feel like that kind of story for much of the narrative. At the very least, one would think at this ending "Wait...there's an emotional mismatch here - that really didn't fit the rest of the tone of the story. Even if there were multiple unreliable characters here (and there are: fair warning without delving into too many spoilers), it doesn't make sense to go that direction because the story already had a compelling story in one tone. It reveals a pretty gruesome but notable reality for an underrepresented population."

At worst? This book does need a TW on several counts: several notations of homophobia (though one could argue that its influenced by the prejudices of the observed characters), body/sexual shaming (see previous notation), rape/complicit accessory rape/statutory rape (oh, I have a soapbox coming on this very subject matter on so. many. levels.), animal cruelty and dismemberment (I had to stop reading for a bit after that scene because I wasn't expecting it), among other things.

So, yeah, complex emotions. :(

Full review:

My initial rating upon finishing this book was 4 stars, and looks like I'm going to take it down to 3.5 because...MASSIVE caveats. There are brilliant moments in the narrative that really tugged at my heartstrings. I think the essence of Mary's story is true to the brutality that many young people of color experience in incarceration, juvenile pregnancy, power and abuse in the correctional system, power and abuse in personal relationships, gaslighting, among other things. It's true to life on some things, but ultimately not in others, and particularly with the progression up through the ending, this is a mature YA (I question it being YA, but I think teens could still read this and get something out of it) dark horror/thriller.

At first I thought that this was something that abruptly changed for the tone in the ending and I thought "Wait a minute, I wish that the book hadn't gone in that direction, because it was so good establishing what Mary's experiences were and illuminating some tough realities in characters who are like her." But the more I looked back through the story, the more I realized that it actually had foreshadowed this dark and foreboding tone; every single character in this narrative is one you can't trust on the surface because of the ultimate truths that are revealed about them as the narrative presses forward. It's one big nightmare that while I don't always agree with how it used elements to its execution, it also provides a space where I'm thinking about the narrative complexities and points long after I put the book down.

The baseline for this story has Mary as a 15/16 year old young black woman convicted in a juvenile home for troubled youth up until the age of 19. She's accused of killing a white infant which has a ton of media coverage and accounts close to Mary's case (which are brilliantly provided in snippets throughout the text, and it gives the narrative an authentic and complex feel). She's struggling to try to make a better life for herself, trying to get the opportunity to take the SAT, getting an education, confronting what seems to be PTSD surrounding details of the case that she's shut out because she doesn't feel like she has a voice or that people will believe her about what *actually* happened. Things become more complicated when Mary realizes that she's pregnant and the system will take away her unborn child if she doesn't say/do something. Hence begins the ball rolling as Mary struggles through hostile and demeaning/neglectful oversight, stern judgment from superiors and peers, a complete lack of support from her mother (her mother's blind religious hypocrisy and self-indulgence had me seeing red through the entire narrative, I thought in my mind "I've read/known about people who have done this to their children, and I can't deal because they are freaking horrible.") among other things to essentially get out of this entire ordeal. It creates sympathy for Mary's situation while holding back pieces of the actual case, revealing them in snippets as the story progresses.

Mary's baby father, Ted, is 18/19, at first appears supportive of Mary's efforts to get out of the system and be with her for the sake of being with her. Note I emphasize "appears", because once the truth about Ted's past actions comes across, it's...messed up. It's messed up enough that his relationship with her was statutory rape to begin with, but I was legit raging and had to put the book down for a time because of what's revealed about him in further spells. MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.

No one can tell me to have sympathy for a guy incarcerated because he was complicit in holding down a young woman by her arms to be raped several times. Regardless if he was scared, regardless whether he "let her go", even if he didn't rape her himself, it's clear he was in denial about doing anything wrong and making the excuse he was "young" when it happened. Mary sees the hypocrisy in this and is sickened by it in spells, but exhibits denial about it in others - which angered me. Further reveals of Ted's character showcase him getting extra money by pocketing part of the money that a woman named Letitcia gets from her relationships and him bumming off from others relationships - which Mary uncovers going to visit him. I'm legit horrified by this (as is Mary). Mary attempts to get away from him even on that measure, but then goes back to being in denial about his actions/demeanor in spells. One could probably argue that Mary's demeanor was in constant denial about many, many things because the emotional weight of all that she endures, but this was something that messed me up reading this story.

(spoiler show)



So ultimately speaking, Ted can screw right off as far as I'm concerned. The horrifying part of this book in many notations is that it feels so vivid and realistic that I could actually see it happening from Mary's viewpoint, particularly with the way she wrestles with her reality and relationships more often times than not. I can see it even it there are details which aren't as ironed out as smoothly as they could've been. I think that's one of the things that sucked me into the story: that I believed it was Mary's experience and her voice is attuned to all the people she's surrounded by, fatal flaws and all. She's a compelling narrator, and I definitely felt for her and for many of the characters in the narrative. Hence when I finished "Allegedly", I felt like I could give it credit for the strong assertions, strong protagonist, and illumination of many different measures in a realistic way.

But at the same time, I feel like that even with knowing the narrative foreshadowed these revelations with the characters and case in itself, the transition and translation of that wasn't as strong as it should've been. So I've asked myself "Is this a 4 star read, is this a 3 star read? I'm going back and forth about it because as much as I liked the emotional resonance in it, I didn't like elements within it and how they were used."

So in the end, it's a strong 3.5 star read for me, and I'd encourage others to read this for the strong themes and character resonance, but be warned that the subject matters are mature and triggering.

Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.

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text 2017-03-10 01:30
The Southbourne Tax Group: Lowell tax preparer allegedly kept refunds; tips for choosing tax preparer

 

There are a lot of scam warnings at tax time, but you may not have considered this one before: Make sure you check out your tax preparer.

 

Last week, a court approved an injunction requested by State Attorney General Maura Healey, aimed at stopping a Lowell tax preparer, Samuel Dangaiso, of Tax Enterprises, from doing business.

 

“We allege that this defendant filed more than $2 million in fraudulent deductions and pocketed tens of thousands of dollars of the falsified refunds,” said Healey. “This tax season, we will be watching for scam tax preparers and will take action to stop tax fraud in order to protect the public.”

 

The attorney general's office alleges that Dangaiso filed tax returns that included invented, unjustified deductions without the knowledge of his clients.

 

Dangaiso would then direct the full refund to his own bank account, pay the customer their expected amount and then keep the rest, Healey said.

 

The investigation revealed that he kept at least $150,000 in refunds from more than 300 returns since 2009.

 

The IRS strongly suggests that consumers check the qualifications and history of their tax preparer. The IRS maintains a directory of credentialed preparers that you can access through this website.

 

Additionally, the IRS said that consumers should never sign a blank return.

 

They should also double-check all routing numbers for bank accounts on their filings to verify that refunds will be sent directly to them and not to the preparer.

 

Additional resources for business accounting tips are available here

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review 2017-02-25 14:28
Allegedly Book Review
Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson

Allegedly is dark and gritty and its so good. Its definitely not my comfort zone in reading genre's but I really loved it. It is one of those books that really make you think.

 

Mary killed her baby sister when she was nine years old, allegedly. That's what the media and the detectives spun it out to be, even though Mary never said she did it. But how do you convict a nine year old? Now sixteen, Mary has grown up in a rough life from foster home to foster home. She just wish the truth would come out.

 

I think the ending was a tad bit disappointing. Though, albeit more realistic than not. I felt terrible for Mary throughout the entire book, the way her mother treats her, the way her foster house is. Its hard to read about, especially knowing that kids do go through the system like this.

 

If you're looking for a realistic but dark story dealing with murder, foster homes and growing up in a tough life, Allegedly really nails it on the head.

 

 

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