Sunday, June 15, 2008

Book Review: Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy

Book: Looking for JJ
Author: Anne Cassidy
Published: 2007

The most notorious child killer in Britain’s history is out of jail. Everyone is slavering for details, a story, even a photo. But Jennifer Jones, the girl who killed her best friend seven years ago, seems to have disappeared. One of the few who knows her real whereabouts is Alice Tully, the girl who used to be Jennifer Jones.

Released secretly six months before the media was informed, Alice has been working to build a life for herself: a job, friends, a flat, a boyfriend, even plans to study history at university. But as the media gets ever closer, this lovely new life seems as fragile as a soap bubble. Probation officers and social workers scramble to plug leaks, but Alice is the only one who can deal with her own guilt and memories. Is it possible to run away from what she did forever? And does she even want to?

The amazing thing about this book is that Jennifer did it. She really did it. Cassidy doesn’t try to fake us out with a monster in the shadows, even another child. Jennifer killed her friend when both were ten years old, and she has to live with the consequences of her actions for the rest of her life. Neither Cassidy nor Alice attempt to excuse or explain, yet Jennifer’s memories make the event plausible, even understandable.

Cassidy juxtaposes pre-murder memories of Jennifer’s life with her vain, neglectful mother and present-day scenes of Alice’s carefully built life crumbling around her. The actual murder isn’t shown until about three-quarters of the way through. Much of what pulls you through the book is morbid curiousity about what she did and how she did it, and then if she can possibly save the life that she’s worked so hard to build.

The ending is both disappointing and hopeful, if such a thing is possible. Read this book for a thought-provoking story of consequences and how close we all are to being monsters, if only for a moment.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is some hook! I'll have to check it out.

Lenore Appelhans said...

Sounds fab - thanks for the review!