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Looking for JJ Paperback – 1 Aug 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; 2 edition (1 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140713809X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407138091
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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 the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ignore what everyone's saying: this book isn't a murder mystery. It's the story of Alice Tully, seventeen years old, outwardly normal but a mess inside. Alice is deeply disturbed and insecure. At the age of ten, Alice murdered another child and was imprisoned. Newly released, she's trying to forget the incident, start a new life and cast off her old baggage. Somehow she can't get rid of her past trauma.
In the book, we follow Alice through a short period of her life: she's working in a coffee shop, living with a carer/social worker and trying to avoid the press.
The novel is interspersed with chilling vignettes from Alice's childhood. We see her neglected as a little girl, her depressed mother working sporadically as a model. We see her packed off to live with Gran, to live in a care-home, until finally Mum turns up and takes her away. We see her mother sinking lower and lower, and the child's tension building up and up - until the intense climax.
This is a fine novel that questions our habit of labelling people. As a killer, Alice is labelled EVIL and UNREACHABLE. The author shows that she's not evil, not unreachable: just deeply miserable and confused. The labels only serve to alienate Alice.
This novel made me resolve to take care of the children I might have, and never to neglect them. As Ms Cassidy so wisely points out, neglect in all its forms can be worse than any abuse.
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Format: Hardcover
Every now and again something quite extraordinary is written that sweeps away any doubts you may have. This is the story about a child who, aged 10, killed another child, an appalling crime, and yet the child is not a monster. The plain, unadorned style is perfectly suited to the subject matter; the subject matter is handled so dexterously that you do not fear to read it, especially the crime itself, which is important. But most of all this is a masterly exercise in organisation and structure of material. There are a thousand ways this book could have been written badly and so ruined. Anne Cassidy avoids them all. I gave this book to my daughter, aged 15, when I finished. She hasn't been reading a lot lately, and she didn't read this: she DEVOURED it.
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Format: Paperback
Looking for JJ is an excellent novel for young adults. It tell Alice Tully's story as she settles into life after being released from prison. She has been given a new identity and hopes to start a new life. At the start of the book this seems possible; she has a place at university and a loving, if slightly possessive, boyfriend, but things will never be easy for Alice Tully. In a series of flashbacks her crime is revealed - when she was only ten she murdered her best friend.

In this novel Anne Cassidy examines several themes. The friendship between the young girls is shown to be a battleground, with a power struggle at the centre. The different sets of parents show how selfish some parents can be, and what effect this can have. The media treatment of Alice show us just how vindictive they are, how they stop at nothing to get their story. The characterisation of the girls when they are young is excellent as is Alice's Mum; however her social work seems like a bit of a stereotype.

However, I feel the main theme 'children killing children' is skimmed over, probably because there is so little evidence to go on or maybe because it is too horrific to think about, never mind write about. Having read this novel I did some research into child killers on the internet and it is a very disturbing topic, it is too easy to write these people of as freaks of nature, but they were all ordinary kids at one point and they have to live with the crimes they have commited.

Overall, a good, thought-provoking novel.
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Format: Paperback
All I could think of when I started this book was: what would this be like if it was written by James Bulger's killers? JJ is nothing like them, though. Though that gives you a general idea of the plot and tone.

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.
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