Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy: the complexity of people

Title: looking for jjLooking for JJ

Author: Anne Cassidy

Genre: YA thriller

Length: 336 pages

Published by: HotKeyBooks

Source: borrowed from the school library


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.

Okay so, even though I’m giving this book 3.5 stars, you should still totally read it. Why? Here are some reasons.

1) Presents people as complex

People are WEIRD, you know. We do strange stuff.


The humanity of the killer is portrayed so well here – it was complex, and not black-or-white, and it made me go through lots of confronting feelings. I never thought I could empathise with a murderer, but I did, and it kind of made me realise that though the media likes to present us with good/evil, binary opposition stories, the reality is a lot different. That really came through strongly.

2) It’s a thriller. 

I think I like thrillers. I mean I’m not sure, because I haven’t read that many, but I’m morbidly interested in weird/creepy things. As long as they’re not movies. I hate scary movies. But scary books are A+++.

3) Moral question without being preach-y

I hate preachy books. They make me want to headdesk.


Like, I don’t understand how you can write a YA book while being so condescending to your audience. But that’s another rant entirely. So yeah, it was nice that this book didn’t preach – at all. There was no clearly-defined answer that the author was trying to make you see. It was completely open-ended.

But all the same, I’m giving it 3.5 stars. This was for a few reasons. I didn’t really like the back-and-forth format of the book – there was a LOT of background story, and some of it (I felt) was unnecessary. Let’s get to the murder, come on!!! (said the psycho). I also feel like, even though the subject matter was really interesting, it could have been executed better. I didn’t believe in the explanation for the murder. I don’t know. It just didn’t make a massive impression on me.

That said, I really liked the fact that it introduced some really complex moral questions. 

Have you read this book? Would you have forgiven her? If you haven’t read it, here’s another question: if you found out that a friend of yours had done something horrible in their past, could you forgive them?

Rating: 3.5/5 Wonderkitties




13 thoughts on “Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy: the complexity of people

  1. Yes! Someone else as bloodthirsty as I am! That day has finally come! *punches air* The WHOLE book I was waiting to get to the murder! And in the end, we didn’t really get the whole story! *headdesks*

    The problem with forgiving Alice, is that I feel like I didn’t have enough information about the murder; it was to sketchy and kept flicking to a different scene, when it JUST got interesting. *headdesks* So I dunno… She was also going through a lot of not very nice stuff with her Mum and the Photographer 😦 I think she was just a kid that had a lot of bad stuff on her shoulders and just snapped at the worst time possible 😦 You also have to remember that she was only 10 😦 But I agree: Everyone should read this book.

    Great review, Emily!

    • We didn’t really, no – it explains a bit more in the next book, which I’ve also read, but there are still gaps. I agree about her snapping at the worst time possible, but since it was basically an accident that moment didn’t feel as disturbing as it could have been. I guess the book focused more on forgiveness and new identities than the murder itself, whereas I wanted to see more of the murder. But yeah, I still think people should read it 🙂

  2. I totally get you with the “get to the murder already”. x) We are psychos together, apparently. I totally get what you’re saying. I didn’t feel it was condescending, buuuut, maybe I was just in a lenient mood. 😉 I loved it enough to give it a 4 but I’m not THAT rushing to get the second book. I think the murder was horrible, but yeah, it was weird. I am so, so, so angry at the mother though!!

    • “Let’s go be psychos together!” Have you watched the Perks of Being a Wallflower movie? Well, anyway, that’s a line from it 🙂

      Oh, I was saying it’s NOT condescending – a good thing, haha. Because it so easily could have been. I applaud Anne Cassidy for not making it into a preach-fest.

      I read the second book, actually, just because I was curious about what would happen. But…well, not much happened, really. I wouldn’t rush into it if I were you 🙂

  3. The cover’s so cool! :O

    I haven’t read it, but to answer your question: I’m not sure. Depends on what it was. If it was something like murder than I’d wonder if I should call the police or not. I’d wonder if they were going to kill me or what else they’ve done. Not sure if I’d have the right to “forgive” them if it had nothing to do with me.

    • There are SO many covers for this book. They’re all quite good 🙂

      You make a fantastic point about not having the right to forgive them. It’s actually a question I struggled with throughout the book, and that more than anything meant I rated it more stars than I might have. I think it would be very, very difficult to forgive someone for something like this, but since it’s never happened to me, it’s hard to say what I’d do.

  4. Great review! This has definitely been on my radar to read. I’m a bit put off by the plot seeming like it’s a bit dragged out though! It still sounds good enough to keep on my TBR though 😀

    • Since I won the second book in a package, I figured I might as well read the first! And I’m by no means disappointed. The story’s told certainly in an unconventional way, but there’s sufficient interest to get through the more detail-filled parts – well, for me at least. I’d love to know your thoughts if you end up reading it 🙂

  5. I’m glad that you enjoyed this one, Em! I love thrillers and also have high expections on them so I will keep this one in mind.

    Lovely review, hun! <33

  6. Pingback: What happened this week: stacking the shelves, TFIOS movie and school spirit week | The Loony Teen Writer

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