Alice Tully is 17, working in a coffee shop until she can go to university. Affectionate, eager to please, loved by her boyfriend, cherished by Rose who fosters her, she has modest ambitions. Alice wants little more than a quiet life, something that, as a child, she may have forfeited for ever.
It is understood that some grown-ups kill each other. This is regrettable and not to be encouraged, but who knows what any of us might not be driven to under pressure? The law and the public regard murder between adults as a crime like any other, and it is currently held to be less heinous than paedophilia.
Paedophilia, after all, is a crime against innocent children, but when a child kills, its protected status is withdrawn. It cannot be normal, it cannot be judged by normal standards of behaviour – an irrational response when it is generally acknowledged that most children have less control, less guile, less foresight and less understanding than most adults, but the sleep of reason breeds monsters. A child who kills must be a monster, and if the judicial system appears to be insufficiently rigorous, the tabloid press will pursue the monster with all ferocity.
Jennifer Jones was 10 years old when she killed her friend Michelle. Now Alice Tully, she is being prepared to join society again. When news of her release breaks, certain sections of the press, not only the tabloids, demand “Is this justice?” and the hunt for JJ is on.
Anne Cassidy has taken a contentious and potentially unsympathetic subject for her novel. Three children go out to play, two neglected little girls and their manipulative, domineering friend. There is nothing manipulative about Jennifer.
She is a straightforward child who would respond to kindness, but a lifetime of negligence and betrayal at her mother’s hands has left her prone to occasional and sudden bouts of violence. The combination of a suitable weapon to hand and provocation beyond endurance has fatal results. Michelle lies dead and Jennifer’s childhood is over.
The central figure in Jennifer’s calamity is her mother, Carol, a catalogue fashion model whose looks are going. Drifting from one man to another, leaving the child with her own mother for long, unpredictable periods, the