Is it read-worth? The first twenty pages and I was in love. A young (nine years old!) black girl who was wrongly convicted of killing a white baby, fighting to prove her innocence. By involving hard to discuss problems in our society, like physical abuse, molestation, and mental illness, the concept of the book excited me. Topics like these make for interesting books and even better discussions. They make you question our society and how racism still plays an overwhelmingly large role in our justice system.
But, then, I kept reading and maybe I shouldn’t have. In the end, I don’t recommend this book. It starts off so strong and finishes in the worst possible way.
SPOILER ALERT: If you want to read this book, don’t read the rest.
The book that had felt so eye-opening in the beginning devolved into ridiculousness. For example, the dialogue (which hadn’t been strong to begin with) seemed to be all about hissing, exclamation points, or the SAT prep teacher’s accent. Mary’s internal dialogue started to grow more childish and the people she encountered were just out of place. It was confusing. It was annoying. Was there really no one in this judicial system that actually wanted to help kids? Why even include the section where she finds out that her boyfriend had been cheating on her? What was the point of the side story about how Mary’s mother wasn’t actually her mother? I lost my grip on the story-line because of all the distractions.
And then there was the ending. It made me feel like my night had been wasted. Why did I bother to read this book??? I mean, more or less. I honestly could barely get through the second half. I thought the plot twist in this book was that Mary was innocent when she had already been proven guilty. Her mother, a deeply religious and now wealthy woman, was the actual murderer and, contrary to how others viewed her, was also a terrible mother. She was the bad guy of the story. This girl that had been labeled by everyone around her as a demon was actually her undeserving mother’s martyr. Finding out that the ENTIRE STORYLINE WAS A LIE was just dumb. But, then again, I did immediately google how other people reacted. I wanted someone to talk to about how betrayed I felt.
However, there was one more thing I want to note that I feel like some people didn’t. What was up with all the stereotyping? I was excited to read this book as a clear portrayal of how the judicial system is prejudiced against people of color. Instead, I got a little bit of that and a whole lot of pregnant teen black girl with a cheating black boyfriend, both in jail. And, then, to top it off the ending showed that the main character was actually guilty of murder the entire time, instead of just being a victim of a bad system. I am not the best person to speak on racial issues, but I just felt like the whole book was feeding into an unpleasant stereotype and I was honestly a little offended that a book that seemed to want to speak up for victims instead just made its victim guilty. It just wasn’t a good book by the end.