Looking for JJ

Looking for JJ

by Anne Cassidy

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Overview

Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of town toward Berwick Waters. Later that day, only two of them came back. . . . Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago, though it's still hard for her to believe it. She'll never be able to forget, even though she's trying to lead a normal life—she has a job, friends, and a boyfriend whom she adores. But Alice's past is dangerous, and violent, and sad . . . and it's about to rip her new life apart. Includes a reader's guide.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780152066383
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 332
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 12 Years

About the Author

Anne Cassidy started writing 15 years ago and is a well known author of several novels for teens, including Looking for JJ, Missing Judy, Talking to Strangers, Tough Love, and Birthday Blues. Looking for JJ was shortlisted for bot the Whitbread award and the Carnegie Medal and won the Booktrust Teenage Book Award in 2004.

Read an Excerpt

one

Everyone was looking for Jennifer Jones. She was dangerous, the newspapers said. She posed a threat to children and should be kept behind bars. The public had a right to know where she was. Some of the weekend papers even resurrected the old headline: a life for a life!

Alice Tully read every article she could find. Her boyfriend, Frankie, was bemused. He couldn’t understand why she was so fascinated. He put his arm around her shoulder and dipped his mouth into her neck while she was reading. Alice tried to push him away, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer and in the end the newspaper crumpled and slipped onto the ground.

Alice couldn’t resist Frankie. He was bigger and taller than she, but that wasn’t difficult. Most people were. Alice was small and thin and often bought her clothes cheaply in the children’s section of clothes shops. Frankie was a giant beside her, and he liked to pick her up and carry her around, especially if they were having an argument. It was his way of making up.

She was lucky to have him.

She much preferred to read the articles about Jennifer Jones when she was on her own. It meant waiting until Rosie, the woman she lived with, was out at work. It gave her plenty of time. Rosie worked long hours. She was a social worker and had a lot of clients to see. In any case, the stories about Jennifer Jones weren’t around all the time. They came in waves. Sometimes they roared from the front page, the headlines bold and demanding. Sometimes they were tiny, a column on an inside page, a nugget of gossip floating on the edge of the news, hardly causing a ripple of interest.

When the killing first happened, the news was in every paper for months. The trial had thrown up dozens of articles from all angles. The events on that terrible day at Berwick Waters. The background. The home lives of the children. The school reports. The effects on the town. The law regarding children and murder. Some of the tabloids focused on the seedier side: the attempts to cover up the crime; the details of the body; the lies told by the children. Alice Tully hadn’t seen any of these at the time. She had been too young. In the past six months, though, she had read as much as she could get her hands on, and the question that lay under every word that had ever been printed was the same: How could a ten-year-old girl kill another child?
In the weeks leading up to the ninth of June, Alice Tully’s seventeenth birthday, the stories started again. Jennifer Jones had finally been released. She had served six years for murder (the judge had called it manslaughter but that was just a nice word). She had been let out on license, which meant that she could be called back to prison at any time. She had been relocated somewhere far from where she was brought up. She had a new identity and no one would know who she was and what she had done.

Alice fell hungrily on these reports, just as she sat coiled up and tense in front of Rosie’s telly, using her thumb to race past the satellite channels, catching every bit of footage of the Jennifer Jones case. The news programs still used the only photograph that there had ever been of the ten-year-old. A small girl with long hair and bangs, a frowning expression on her face. JJ was the little girl’s nickname. The journalists loved it. It made Alice feel weak just to look at it.

On the morning of her birthday, Rosie woke her up with a birthday card and present.

“Here, sleepyhead.”

Alice opened her eyes and looked upward at Rosie. She had her dark suit on and the white striped blouse she always wore with it. Her hair was tied back off her face, making her look serious and stern. Instead of her usual hanging earrings she was wearing gold studs. It was not the way Rosie liked to dress.

“Don’t tell me, you’re in court today!” Alice said, sitting up, stretching her arms out, ruffling her fingers through her own short hair.

“You guessed it!” Rosie said. “Here, take this, birthday girl!”

Alice took the present while Rosie walked to the window and pushed it open. A light breeze wafted in, lifting the net curtains. Alice pulled the duvet tight, up to her neck.

“Do you want to freeze me to death?” she said, jokingly.

Rosie took no notice. She loved fresh air. She spent a lot of her time opening windows, and Alice spent a lot of time closing them.

Inside the wrapping paper was a small box, the kind that held jewelry. For a moment Alice was worried. Rosie’s taste in jewelry was a bit too artsy for her. She lifted the lid off gingerly and saw a pair of tiny gold earrings.

“These are lovely,” Alice said, and felt a strange lump in her throat.

“More your taste than mine,” Rosie said, looking in Alice’s wall mirror and pulling at her jacket, using the flats of her hands to smooth out her skirt. She looked uncomfortable.

Alice got out of bed and stood beside her. She held an earring up to one ear and nodded approvingly. Then she squeezed Rosie’s arm.

“You’re on lates this week?” Rosie said.

Alice nodded. She didn’t have to be at work until ten.

“I’ll be home early. So I’m going to cook a special meal,” Rosie said. “And it’s not only your birthday we’re celebrating. Next Saturday, you’ll have been here for six months!”

That was true. Six months of waking up every morning in that bedroom, of eating in Rosie’s kitchen, of seeing her name on letters: alice tully, 52 phillip street, croydon.

“My mum’s coming. What about Frankie?”

Rosie had been making a special cake that had been hidden from Alice. Her mother, Kathy, a funny Irish woman, was helping her.

“He can’t come.”

She didn’t bother to explain. Frankie said he felt awkward around Rosie, as though she were watching him, waiting to tell him off every time he touched Alice. He preferred it when they were alone.

“Oh well. It’ll be just the three of us then.”

After Rosie left, Alice sat on her bed holding the earrings and looking at her card. There would be nothing from her mother, she knew that. She sat very still for a moment, aware of her own body, trying to read her own sensations. Was she upset? She had other presents and cards. She had Frankie and her friends from the Coffee Pot. Then there was Rosie herself. Rosie with her powerful hug and no-nonsense manner; Rosie who smelled of lemons and garlic and basil and who was always trying to fatten her up. Dear, sweet Rosie. Alice hadn’t known that such people existed.

The sound of the letter box distracted her. She got up and took her card over to the mantelpiece and stood it up. Then she walked downstairs to the front door where the morning paper was sticking through the letter box. She pulled it out, taking care not to graze it or tear the pages, and took it back up to the kitchen. Without looking she laid it down on the kitchen table and got on with making her breakfast. She tipped out some cereal and poured milk into her bowl. One teaspoon of sugar was all she wanted. Then she got out the orange juice and poured herself exactly half a glass. Where eating was concerned she had a routine. She wasn’t fussed about her weight or her shape. She just ate what she wanted and no amount of persuasion from anyone was going to change that.

She sat down and flattened the newspaper. There it was again, the headline she had expected.


JENNIFER JONES FREE AFTER SIX YEARS

Is this justice?

FONT-FAMILY: Times; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'" Her wrist trembled as she lowered her spoon into the bowl and scooped up some cereal. The story was the same as every other one that she had read over the last weeks. Should Jennifer have been released? Should she stay in Britain? Is she a danger to children? Then there was the revenge angle: Would the dead girl’s parents try to find Jennifer?

As ever, the newspaper gave a brief outline of the story of that day at Berwick Waters. Alice read it. It was just like all the others. She had read them all. If anyone had asked she could have probably recited it by heart.

A bright blue day in May, six years before. The sun was staring down from the sky, but a sharp breeze bothered the bushes and flowers, bending them this way and that. When it died down, the sun’s glare was heavy, and for a fleeting moment it might have seemed like a midsummer day.

Copyright © Anne Cassidy, 2004

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Customer Reviews

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Looking for JJ 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
How well do you know the people around you? How do you know they are not hiding a huge secret like their past?

This is the second book I've read recently that casts light on how murderers who are children fit into society after serving time for their crime. Anne Cassidy's new book, LOOKING FOR JJ, will keep your interest until the very end. Not only does the author give details about what happened but she lays the framework as to possible causes of why it happened -- because that is just as important. I actually found myself feeling sorry for Jennifer, the girl who committed the crime, wishing it hadn't happened to her.

Michele Livingstone is dead. She died six years ago at the hands of her friend, JJ. Jennifer Jones has paid for what happened to Michele. There is no denying that Jennifer is responsible for Michele's death, but while reading the book I came to the conclusion that she wasn't the only one to blame. Is there one thing that controls when and how aggressive someone becomes? I really believe that genetic factors may contribute to behavior, but if a child is engaging in delinquent behavior it is probably due to peer influences and lapses in parenting.

Jen's home life while growing up wasn't exactly the "Leave it to Beaver" atmosphere. Her mom certainly wouldn't win any parenting awards and from an early age Jen learned how to get by on her own, alone. Craving love, it is understandable that Jennifer had anger issues. The question is can people change? Can violent deeds of the past be forgiven with the passage of time?

Jennifer is about to be released from jail and the press has made it front page news once again. Is JJ still a danger to other children? Where is she going to live now? Will the family of the dead girl try to get revenge?

Alice Tully, like everyone else, follows the stories in the paper with keen interest. The only thing is that Alice knows something no one else does. She knows where Jennifer Jones is. Only three other people know her whereabouts. What is the connection between Alice Tully and Jennifer Jones? Why does Alice live in constant fear? Who is Alice Tully exactly? Read the book to find out.....
Goldengrove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a mystery novel which gradually reveals the truth about JJ. The Press are looking for her to give them a great story, but she is also looking for herself. It is a sensitive and at times tense look at the psyche of a child that killed another child. The writer is sympathetic to JJ, and reader is invited to be so also. I was, but interestingly I have found that many of the teenagers who have given me reviews of this book are not. For them the fact that JJ killed another child overrides any consideration of her own situation. It made me think about how age and experience can make us more understanding - 'there but for the grace of God' - but of course, this is a book aimed at teenagers, so perhaps their reactions show that it doesn't quite succeed
MrsHillReads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a great read! Why would a child kill? How does she live with herself afterwards? How does society deal with a child-murderer?
justablondemoment on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just wasn't very moved by this book. I struggled almost all the way through it. I know it's says it's a young adult story so I wasn't expecting a really deep novel. I read alot of these types of books though and this one was more juvenile than young adult... to me anyway. Good idea and parts (very few sadly) really had me going but the bulk of it was just to slow.
meggyweg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this was an excellent novel. Cassidy is able to show clearly how Jennifer, who was basically a normal child with a kind heart, could be driven to kill. Neglected and ignored by everyone in her life, Jennifer never felt any sense of belonging until she became friends with Michelle and Lucy. When those relationships were threatened, she lashed out. I believe the murder was actually a desperate attempt to keep the friendship together.Jennifer/Alice's redemption, and the difficulties she faces in her new life, are also very well portrayed. She will have to live with her guilt for the rest of her life, and will have to hide from the press. She may never be able to form lasting relationships.I think this would be a good book for people to read who think that all murderers must be monsters. In truth, any of us, pushed hard enough, could turn into a killer.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Jones was a ten-year-old who killed another child. After she has served six years in detention she is being released, and the press is all over her story. Alice Tully is fascinated by the story too. Alice is one of the few people who know where Jennifer Jones is because she is JJ. She's been relocated and given a new name so she has a chance to start a new life. Alice is a really likeable character and through flashbacks the reader sees her early life as Jennifer Jones and finally the day at Berwick Waters where the killing happened. A thought-provoking read that looks at issues of family, forgiveness, identity, and healing.
Chilsd More than 1 year ago
This was pretty moving. I sort of liked the ending. leaves a sad and lasting taste of the harshness she went threw
AmberSue More than 1 year ago
Kudos to a book that keeps you reading! Even as a suspect in a murder, JJ is as innocent as ever, no matter what people may believe. Cassidy shows what life is like for JJ after a terrible accident during her childhood years. this was a great book, and I'd recommend it to young readers who love a good mystery.
depressedreader More than 1 year ago
I read this book a while ago and I remember it being pretty good :] the writing format is really good!! Moving from her past and present...it gives the reader a more understand of the main character's past and her as a person. It is really intersting and it is hard to put this book down!! The only thing I didn't like about this book was the ending. It really made me mad and it was kind of bleh. There was this huge build up and suspence in the climax but the resolution just leaves you disapounted. Still...overall this is a great book!! and I totally recommend it!
Zelda More than 1 year ago
I had expected something different going into this book but still enjoyed it and had a hard time putting it down. It's interesting how the mother and daughter react to each other through the book and how nothing is really how it seems.
Athletic-Bookworm More than 1 year ago
It was ok. The ending was a little....unsatisfying, with the huge climax build-up. I liked it, but there wasn't much closure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking For JJ, Although i enjoyed the writing style that Anne Cassidy uses and the ease with which it flows from past to present, i would classify this book as a good read for a rainy day. when i initally picked up the book i was in the mood for a mystery, although there is some mystery involved i would analyze this story as an identiy crisis caused by doemstic abuse. The writing style of the book made me eager to read more, however the story was highly depressing. After after such a build up to the climax i found the ending dissapointing and abrupt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved it!!! it was very mysterious that keeps you on the edge of you seat wanting to find out what haunts this womans past.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok i don't read much but when my mum picked up this book i thpought id give it a go! i have never reawd a book with so many twists and turns and suspense!! read it, i no you'll love it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Maybe a bit creepy but I coudn't stop reading it! If you don't like I am surprised.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first read this book on audiobook and I have to tell you, it gave me a case of the heebie-jeebies and even after reading it in print at least 7 different times, it still does. In a good way. Anne Cassidy writes so well that I can see everything happening and the book effortlessly flows from present to past, from one generation to another, both times hungery for more JJ. This is one of those rare books that reflects a society with realism and truth and has the ability to change the way you percieve the good and the bad, right and wrong. This book is beautiful and enchanting, a book that will pull you in and stick with you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
OMG!!! This book is amazing. It has the best plot and is very suspenceful! I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
How well do you know the people around you? How do you know they are not hiding a huge secret like their past? This is the second book I¿ve read recently that casts light on how murderers who are children fit into society after serving time for their crime. Anne Cassidy¿s new book, LOOKING FOR JJ, will keep your interest until the very end. Not only does the author give details about what happened but she lays the framework as to possible causes of why it happened -- because that is just as important. I actually found myself feeling sorry for Jennifer, the girl who committed the crime, wishing it hadn¿t happened to her. Michele Livingstone is dead. She died six years ago at the hands of her friend, JJ. Jennifer Jones has paid for what happened to Michele. There is no denying that Jennifer is responsible for Michele¿s death, but while reading the book I came to the conclusion that she wasn¿t the only one to blame. Is there one thing that controls when and how aggressive someone becomes? I really believe that genetic factors may contribute to behavior, but if a child is engaging in delinquent behavior it is probably due to peer influences and lapses in parenting. Jen¿s home life while growing up wasn¿t exactly the ¿Leave it to Beaver¿ atmosphere. Her mom certainly wouldn¿t win any parenting awards and from an early age Jen learned how to get by on her own, alone. Craving love, it is understandable that Jennifer had anger issues. The question is can people change? Can violent deeds of the past be forgiven with the passage of time? Jennifer is about to be released from jail and the press has made it front page news once again. Is JJ still a danger to other children? Where is she going to live now? Will the family of the dead girl try to get revenge? Alice Tully, like everyone else, follows the stories in the paper with keen interest. The only thing is that Alice knows something no one else does. She knows where Jennifer Jones is. Only three other people know her whereabouts. What is the connection between Alice Tully and Jennifer Jones? Why does Alice live in constant fear? Who is Alice Tully exactly? Read the book to find out¿.. **Reviewed by: coollibrarianchick
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very good. I like the set up of it!!! If you like these kinds of book than you should read it!!!!