on January 24th 2017
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
Setting: New York
Mary B. Addison killed a baby.
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. 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?
This book…wow. Go get it and read it. Seriously.
I started out listening to this on audio. The narration by Bahni Turpin was incredible. She really brought the characters to life. I’m glad I had those voices in my head to help keep the characters straight. She made the adults in books seem even more vile than they were on the page. But about 1/3 of the way through I had to go to the library and get a hard copy. It was just too stressful to listen to the audiobook. There was such a sense of foreboding that I needed to know what happened at the end in order to be able to concentrate on what was going on in the middle.
I’m not even ashamed of grabbing the book and reading the last few chapters to settle my poor nerves.
Then I went back and read the rest of the book straight through from where I left off on the audio.
Mary’s life is absolutely tragic. She has been in jail since she was nine years old. Not juvenile detention. She was in adult prison. She couldn’t be with the general population so she was kept mostly in solitary confinement for years. Now she is on parole in a group home full of viscous teenage girls who hate her for the notoriety of her alleged crime.
No one is on Mary’s side in life. The story is told in part through transcripts from interviews and passages from books written about what a monster she is. There is always the racial subtext of a black girl killing a white baby. She’s had death threats from people who seem to think that the correct penalty for killing a child is killing yet another child.
Her mother is horrible. Oooh, I hated that woman. She needs to be the center of attention at all times. It isn’t surprising that Mary feels that it was her role in life to do whatever would be necessary to take care of her mother. It would have been nice if her mother felt the same way about her.
All the adults in her life judge her as a murderer and they seem to think it is worse than any other murder because she killed a baby. She is physically, mentally, and sexually abused in jail and/or the group home. No one cares except for her boyfriend, Ted.
Through all this you see her trying to better herself, especially now that she is pregnant. You root for her all through the book. She needs to learn to stand up for herself. That’s hard when you have never had any control of anything in your life.
This book will leave you emotionally wrung out over the way Mary was treated. I’m a huge fan of books that have just one more twist than you were expecting right at the end. I’ve seen a lot of reviews that absolutely hate that but it is one part of this book that made me think this is a masterpiece. I just had to sit a while and let everything sink in.