by Jackson, Tiffany D.

Relocated to a violent group home after enduring years in prison for allegedly killing a white baby, black teen Mary B. Addison falls in love with a fellow resident and becomes pregnant before finding the courage to set the record straight about what really happened. Simultaneous eBook. 50,000 first printing.

*Starred Review* Mary B. Addison was nine when a jury quickly convicted her of a crime the public was already convinced she'd committed: the murder of Alyssa Richardson, a white infant that African American Mary and her mother were babysitting. Back then, Mary kept quiet about the incident. Now almost 16, she has spent the better part of her life under lock and key, first in "baby jail" and then in a group home. But Mary has a boyfriend now, and they're expecting a baby, and there's no way the state will let a convicted baby-killer keep her child. For the first time since her trial, Mary may actually have to speak about her childhood, her tumultuous relationship with her mother, and what happened-allegedly-that night. Interspersed with psychiatric evaluations and newspaper clippings, this slowly unfolds in two directions: elements of Mary's past are revealed even as the story rolls toward its unsettling conclusion. Suspenseful without being emotionally manipulative, compelling without resorting to shock value, this is a tightly spun debut that wrestles with many intense ideas and ends with a knife twist that will send readers racing back to the beginning again. Complicated family loyalties, the lasting effects of media sensationalism, and the privileges inherent with whiteness all come into play here, and Mary herself is a carefully crafted character, unreliable at times and sympathetic at others, who will not be forgotten. Copyright 2016 Booklist Reviews.

With a black mother suffering from multiple mental conditions and a possibly white father who's "N/A"-at least according to her birth certificate-15-year-old Mary B. Addison finds herself navigating the prison-industrial complex alone for allegedly killing a 3-month-old white baby. She was placed in "baby jail" at 9 under a cloud of national notoriety spawned by her case. Now she endures unremitting bullying from the staff and the other girls at the all-female group home in Brooklyn, where she lives under house arrest; the attentions of the do-gooder white female writing coach who tries to give the young women hope through words yet "knows [their] future is grim"; and the bureaucratic obstacles to get a state ID simply to take the SAT. While in this gritty environment, Mary becomes pregnant by her boyfriend, Ted, an 18-year-old black man who is also confined in the labyrinth of the penal system but later must turn to "survival sex" to maintain his shelter. The author presents all of this as a matter of fact in Mary's voice, not sensationally or, worse, exploitatively. Because of this, her novel effectively joins Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow (2010) to become another indictment of the penal system's decimating power beyond its bars and, more subtly and refreshingly, a pro-reproductive-justice novel. Searing and true. (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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