Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy

Finding Jennifer Jones is the sequel to Looking for JJ and while the  books can be read separately I would highly recommend reading them in order.  If you read any more of this review there are ***SPOILERS*** for what happens in Looking for JJ.

It has been a few years since Jennifer Jones was released back into the community after serving her sentence, but she is not truly free.  There are a series of conditions on her release, and if she breaks them she could end up going back to serve more time - this time in a real prison instead of the children's facility where she was before.  As time passes it feels like Jennifer (now Kate Rickman, formerly Alice Tully) is being dragged down by her feelings of frustration and self destruction.  Kate should be having the time of her life as she approaches her final year of university but instead she is drinking more than she should which sometimes leads to her waking up in strange bedrooms with guys she doesn't really know.  It is a spiral of destructive behaviours that could bring her down.

When a child is murdered in her town Kate learns what is really means to be a convicted killer, because she is right at the top of their list.  For some of the local Police Kate deserves no sympathy, and even worse seem to think she is a target for unwanted attentions.  It all leaves a sour taste in Kate's mouth and when she finds an oportuntiy to escape her old life and the controls on it she leaps at the chance and travels to London.  Life in London seems like the chance for a new start but Kate can't let go of the past, and she feels compelled to search for answers about what happened in the aftermath of the death - even though it means breaking the conditions of her release.  Kate is about to come face-to-face with her past, and what she does next will decide her fate and her future.

Looking for JJ was a powerful book that provided a glimpse into the life of a child who killed another child and what her life was like once she was released back into the community.  Full of hope and dreams of the future Alice Tully seemed to have a future, but that was ripped away and Kate Rickman was left in her place.  Kate has adapted and survived, but she is also broken and fragile, not really part of the community in which she leaves.  Through her eyes we see the future of a released killer, no mater how well she has lived her life she is automatically a suspect when a child is found murdered.  Through Kate we can't help but feel her bitterness that her past is held against her, that the Police don't care about the whole story - only that she killed a child.  It is not surprising that she takes the step of ditching her new life and trying to strike out on her own.

I felt a huge amount of sympathy for Kate/Alice/Jennifer in both novels and I felt it more keenly in some ways for Kate.  Anne Cassidy has once again found a way to make Kate a sympathetic character without excusing her actions or making her a victim - everything that happens to Kate is straight forward but doesn't allow her to avoid her past or her actions.  There is a real sense of closure here, and not just because of the decisions that Kate makes to move forward.  Looking for JJ left a few loose ends, mainly because the story was so tightly focused on Alice/Jennifer.  In Finding Jennifer Jones we learn more about the ripples of that day and what happened to the other people in the novel.

A highly anticipated and well received novel - a confronting and touching novel about learning to live with our actions and moving forward.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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