Tournament of Books, Round Two: Allegedly vs Spinning

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

41Pkis9KXqL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Confession time, my book friends: I? I am a flipper. Especially with mysteries and thrillers. That’s right. Somewhere about a third to halfway through these books, I flip to the back of the book and read the end. Sometimes I just have to know who survives. Or if I guessed the murderer correctly. Or who killed the cat! I tried with Allegedly not to flip. I tried so hard. But, friends? I failed. And I’m SO GLAD I DID. Knowing how this book ends? Meant that I was able to see some things about how Jackson crafted the plot and Mary’s voice which I never might have noticed otherwise. It reminded my of Code Name Verity and how I wanted to start that book all over immediately once I finished reading it.

Allegedly is a puzzle box of a psychological mystery and a grim depiction of the harsh reality that comes when the juvenile criminal justice system, mental illness, and teenagers combine. Jackson captures the everyday difficulties placed in the way of the rehabilitation of the group home girls; what Mary has to go through just to get a state ID is maddening. I sincerely hope that not every group home is this bad, but I certainly believe that some are which is really unconscionable. The need for criminal justice reform shines clearly through this book, but it never obscures the intricate plot, Mary’s desperate fight to improve her chances at life for both herself and her baby, or the very complex mother/daughter relationships on display through a variety of characters.

Spinning by Tillie Walden

spinningSpinning is a graphic memoir following Tillie Walden from 6th through 11th grades focusing on her experiences as a competitive figure skater. Walden excels at giving her memoir a distant moodiness that captures her ambivalent feelings towards this portion of her adolescence and her time in the figure skating world. Where Allegedly was gritty, Spinning is bleak. Walden faces bullying, sexual assault, homophobia, a grueling schedule, and somewhat disinterested parents. Faces may be the wrong term though – for large portions of the memoir, Walden floats through events, letting herself be carried along and swallowing her feelings. It makes the climactic moment when she tells her mother she’s quitting figure skating all the more powerful, but getting there takes a long time.

The art is sketchy and at times I had to double-check which ice skating colleague was being depicted. I wonder if that was deliberate on Walden’s part since most of the other ice skaters don’t seem to register as full people for her. In fact, other than Tillie, I didn’t feel like any of the characters in the book were fully developed, but with the focus being tightly on Tillie’s experiences, again perhaps that was deliberate. I did particularly enjoy the chapter headers depicting specific figure skating moves and Tillie’s feelings about them. I even looked up some brief YouTube videos of each move so I could get a better feel about what they were like in real life.

And the winner is……..


Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

I haven’t stopped thinking about this book since I finished it. While I enjoyed Spinning, in the end, I am a reader for plot and in depth characterization both of which Allegedly has in spades. Reading Allegedly was so intense that I had to stop for breaks a couple times. I sort of want to apologize to the next judge because it is gritty and tough, but in the end it’s worth it. Plus – I need people to help me sort something out. *SPOILER ALERT*


Alright – seriously folks – who killed the cat???? I had to check three times to make sure it really doesn’t say. Was it supposed to be Sarah (New Girl)? Or Kelly? Or Mary during a rage blackout which is why we don’t get let in on it? Opinions, please!!!

Jennifer Jazwinski is the Popular Materials Assistant Manager at the Palatine Public Library District. She blogs about starred reviews and best book lists and book awards at Jen J’s Booksheets – sometimes there’s even graphs! (Ok, there was one post with graphs, but she hopes to include more soon because she’s a math and numbers nerd and loves them.) You can also find her as Bkwrm7 on Litsy.


Back to Round Two, Bracket Six

Onto Round Two, Bracket Eight


2 thoughts on “Tournament of Books, Round Two: Allegedly vs Spinning

  1. Pingback: Tournament of Books, Round Two: Moxie vs Prince in Disguise | So like YA know...

  2. Pingback: Tournament of Books, Round Two: The Hate U Give vs Warcross | So like YA know...

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