A story that monopolized international headlines for months at a time over the course of four years couldn’t tell the whole story. A University of Washington student, who dreamed through her childhood of spending a year studying in Italy, settles into a life in Perugia, Italy. Tragic, brutal murder of one of her housemates turns Amanda Knox’s dream into the darkest, life-altering nightmare that took years to resolve, enveloping her beloved family and friends and forever impacting their lives. This memoir shows an isolated 20-year-old who must somehow reach deep into her heart and soul to find courage, inspiration and hope.
I was so moved by the talent and skill of her writing. I mean, this author can really write. I felt the naïveté, the giddiness, the youthful freedom at the start of her dream adventure. Then, I felt the accelerating horror as destiny takes hold. And then, I was swept up in the diametrically opposed emotions as she’s jailed in Italy, put on trial in a media surround sound, and convicted with a 26-year sentence for a crime she did not commit.
At the heart is Meredith Kercher, who will not be forgotten. What the reader learns about her crystallizes that a beautiful young woman’s life was stolen so young. Amanda writes anecdotes about the short time she and Meredith had together as friends. What a nice, naïve, giving young woman, also joyful with her own dreams and aspirations and part of a loving family and circle of friends left devastated.
The author is not only able to vividly record her own experiences, but she also gives glimpses into the experience of her family, friends, and others including Rafaelle Sollecito, who was also wrongly convicted. The reader is filled with compassion for them all for what they also endured. You can vividly imagine the horror to be in Seattle — on the other end of Amanda’s evolving phone calls home — and to uproot your life, maintain a residence in Italy to be as near as possible for years, watch your finances dwindle, and struggle to maintain hope your daughter would be freed.
It takes an incredible storyteller to write about a well-known, true event in a way that the reader is carried along and kept in the moment on each page. I found myself hoping for triumphs and fearing tragedy and thinking the next page would be different, as if history can be changed. Amanda Knox takes us on an insightful tour of the long trip from agony to ecstasy. The author is never self-pitying, never represents herself as a victim. Her depiction of the Italian police, the trials, her attorneys, her guards, and others she was in jail with is all riveting.
Today the author lives in Seattle and works with the Innocence Project, which is a non-profit dedicated to putting an end to wrongful convictions. Exonerated by Italy’s highest court in 2015, almost four years after she was acquitted of murder, you can believe that such an effort would be close to Amanda Knox’s heart. She’s also attended college courses and is an Arts Correspondent at the West Seattle Herald. She paints a picture of a person who does not fear life, but relishes it.
Thereby hangs a tale . . . .
— By Wendy Kendall
Wendy Kendall is a writer, project manager and volunteer at the Edmonds Library. Follow her via her blog here or on Twitter @wendywrites1.