I have just finished reading Looking for JJ and Finding Jennifer Jones by Anne Cassidy. Looking for JJ was published ten years ago and Finding Jennifer Jones was published recently as a sequel. The books are about a child killer, Jennifer Jones. She killed her best friend when she was ten. Over six years later she is out of prison and trying to make a new life for herself under a new identity. Except it is never that easy. It is hard for Jennifer to let go of the past and it is hard for others to accept that she can live a normal life.
The story is told by Jennifer herself and through her we learn, bit by bit, about her childhood, about the killing and about her attempts to move on. What Jennifer comes to realise is that her past will never leave her, whatever identity she carries and wherever she moves to. The question then is, what should Jennifer do and how should she face the future.
The books are not sensationalist and that is where their strength lies. These two books fall into the interesting category of books – the ones that challenge your preconceptions. Before you start to read the books answer these questions and then go back to the questions once you have finished the books and see if you feel the same:
- Do you think murderers should ever be allowed out of jail?
- Does is make any difference if the murderer is a child – even if that child knew what she was doing?
- Is prison there to punish or to rehabilitate?
- Whose needs should be considered most – the reformed murder or the victim’s family?
- Should we be more forgiving and more understanding of the reasons behind crimes?
- Would you be comfortable with someone who had committed a crime like a murder, even if it was long ago?
- Should newspapers be punished severely if they reveal the new identity of a criminal or do they have a right to do this?
- Should people who serve their term in prison still be overshadowed by their crime forever, just as the victim’s family are always overshadowed by their loved one’s death?
There are other books that challenge preconceptions: