Looking for JJ, by Anne Cassidy

Jennifer Jones has just been released from a secure unit, after being imprisoned for six years after killing her best friend when they were both ten. The newspapers are desperate for a story, and so want to find out where she's living and what her new name is. JJ herself wants to be able to start a new life but is not convinced that she deserves one.

This is a book aimed at young people, so was quite an easy read, although the themes are reasonably mature. But it was gripping stuff: I read it in a day and (maybe partly because of that) am having trouble getting the themes out of my head.

I was very impressed by this book. The story of JJ's new identity was very plausible: she'd actually been living in her new life for six months by the time the official announcement was made of her release, so that people looking for a sixteen year-old girl newly turning up wouldn't make any connection with the one who'd arrived several months earlier.

As the investigative net closes around Jennifer, and exposure seems likely, the back-story of the events leading up to the crime is revealed, and so we gain insight into the factors contributing to the murder. In fact, although we feel sympathetic to Jennifer, it never seems like her actions are being excused, and so we're never led to feel that a miscarriage of justice occurred. Something that especially impressed me was that one fairly gruesome aspect of the crime was alluded to at first in a way that made you think it was a trick of memory. Later someone makes a passing comment which confirms the detail, but apart from that it never comes up. It makes you realise how different the story we're hearing is from the one which the tabloids would tell.

Excellent. I was really sorry that it had to end (although the ending was very well done).

Completed : 19-Nov-2005

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