Looking for JJ Paperback – 1 Aug 2013
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"Dark, chilling and clever."--Celia Rees, author of"The Wish House"and"Blood Sinister""Compassionate, unsensational and unflinching."--"The Guardian "(London)"A skillful tale. . . . The ethical issues and solid, suspenseful storytelling provide many discussion possibilities."--"Booklist""A sympathetic look at someone who has done the unspeakable and now has to live with the results." --kliatt
“Compassionate, unsensational and unflinching." (The Guardian)
"An astonishing book." (The Bookseller)
“Dark, chilling and clever … Anne Cassidy reminds me of Minette Walters or Ruth Rendell.” (Celia Rees)
"Shirley Barthelmie's voice is easy to listen to and her narration is excellent. Her drama background is obvious in the way she develops the characters with accents and emphasis. She reads at a suitable pace, matching the plot. Technically, the introductory music for each disc sets the scene for an intriguing mystery. For reluctant teenage female readers, this audiobook will be very popular." (Fiction Focus)
"The search for JJ is a multilayered story, told with dexterity by Shirley Barthelmie. JJ (Jennifer Jones) is a teen pursued by the London tabloids, as well as by her own demons, since she was convicted at the age of 10 of killing her best friend. Released from prison and working to establish a new life, she is both a normal teenager with a boyfriend and plans for college and a victim of her past. Cassidy travels from present to past with alacrity as the events that led to the murder are revealed in recollected scenes interspersed amid JJ's preoccupations with work and romance. Suspense is heightened by background music and Barthelmie's matter-of-fact recounting." (AudioFile Magazine) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
Six years ago, Jennifer killed a girl. She was 10. Now she's 17 and, identity protected, out of youth detention and trying to make a life for herself. As you'd expect, the past haunts her. And us too -we want to know what happened. We want to know why it happened. And we're slowly admitted to her memories and childhood. It's sad. You feel for the girl she was. You also feel for the young woman she is now. And the novel asks us to consider the public and media interest (and condemnation) that she attracts.
I really did feel I could understand Jennifer (and her new alias). I wasn't keen on the boyfriend - he almost turned into a violent stalker in my opinion before reverting to a lovesick teenager. The adults around her are solid, trustworthy and show us the system that surrounds young offenders - very interesting. Ditto the methods used by the authorities to deal with the media and protect identities.
This was a quick read, though quite emotional. The childhood scenes were incredibly touching and angering at the same time - my feelings as a mother myself outraged. I would have liked more of a definite conclusion, but can see that there's a lot more story to tell and I'll be reading the sequel (Finding Jennifer Jones) shortly.
It does bring up a raft of questions:
- is 10 as the age of criminal responsibility always justified?
- what role does a parent play in a child's (criminal) actions?
- do we change? are we still the person at 17 as we were at 10?
One that stays with you.
Looking For JJ starts with the story of Alice Tully, a 17 year-old girl living and working in Croydon. She seems to have it all - a job she enjoys, a loving boyfriend, prospects for university, a caring home...but all is not as it seems and we soon learn that Alice is hiding a dark secret.
Flash back 7 years, and we are introduced to Jennifer Jones, a 10 year old girl living a very dysfunctional life with her mother, a model of sorts, and struggling to deal with growing up in an environment where she is left to fend for herself. Jennifer is quiet, reserved and seemingly innocent, but all that changes when she and two friends go out to play...but only two of them return.
This book crafts the story of JJ perfectly - it's so hard to actively dislike the young girl who we know does a terrible thing. It's a book that makes you question rapidly judging people and whether we should give people second chances. The writing is exquisite, grips you from the get-go and draws you into the lives of the characters in such a way that it really does feel as though you know them. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
I would also recommend:
- Missing Judy, also by Anne Cassidy
- Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson
- If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
- Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie
I quite liked Alice - she seemed to have a bit of get up and go about her. She totally needed to tell her knobhead boyfriend to clear off though. He was an idiot.
The plot itself revolved around Alice trying to build a life for herself and the media trying to track her down. It reminded me a bit of one of those kitchen sink dramas - all grim realism and not much in the way of fun.
Not a bad read, though.
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