76 pages 2 hours read

Tiffany D. Jackson


Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2017

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Character Analysis

Mary Beth Addison

Mary is the protagonist and first-person narrator of the novel. She is a light-skinned African American girl who has spent the previous six years serving a sentence for the murder of three-month-old Alyssa. Mary is newly pregnant by her boyfriend Ted and plans to keep the baby. She has remained silent about her role in Alyssa’s death since entering jail, but when Mary realizes that the system will terminate her own parental rights due to her conviction, Mary goes on a quest to clear her name by casting blame on her eccentric, unstable mother.

Momma’s irresponsibility and unpredictability as a parent put Mary in the position of having to care for herself and her mother from a very young age, causing a role reversal in the parent-child relationship. Momma’s mental illness had created in Mary a hungering for the love of a healthy, attentive, “normal” parent, like Mrs. Richardson. Mrs. Richardson was always attentive to Mary and told her how smart she was, encouraging her to read and urging her to someday attend college. When Mrs. Richardson gave birth to a baby girl, Alyssa, Mary was smitten. Mary had helped Mrs. Richardson with the baby and appeared to love Alyssa deeply.