After all that has been said about Amanda on news shows, magazines, the internet and even a made-for-TV movie, Amanda finally gives us her version of the story. In a prose that is easy to follow and insightful, we meet Amanda a few months before she moves to
We get to know her parents, her siblings and her sometimes quirky and
adventurous nature in her native Seattle, where she has planned in some detail
her year of studies in Italy—a lifelong dream of hers. Perugia, Italy
Amanda is not very different from other people her age who travel abroad. I also traveled to
Europe in my
early twenties and Amanda seemed as ordinary as any other girl I met during my trip.
I won’t go into too much detail about her story since: a) it’s all over the
internet and b) if I tell you too much, you won’t want to read it (and if you’re
interested in her story, I believe it’s worth reading. Especially because we’re
so used to making quick judgments based on what the media tells us.) I’ll just say that Amanda goes into great
detail about those first months in , the people she associated
with, her relationship with her roommates, the boys she met, etc. She doesn’t
portray herself as a saint as she admits to having smoked pot and engaged in
sexual activity with two or three guys. This, she says, were
mistakes the media and the prosecution exploited during her first trial. Italy
Amanda claims her relationship with Meredith was good. According to her, they were confidents and friends who explored the city together and shared similar experiences (both were English speakers trying to find their way through a new culture and a new language). Then she describes the moment she met Raffaele—her then boyfriend and partner in this ordeal—their short-lived but intense relationship, the day Meredith died, the police interrogations, her two trials and her life in prison. She brings insight into a few things that are not explored much on the internet or news shows:
- What, according to Amanda, happened during the interrogation where she accused her boss of killing Meredith (and later admitted to lying about it). She offers a theory as to why she lied that night.
- During her appeal, there was an important testimony from a man who’d been imprisoned with Meredith’s convicted killer (Rudy Guede, who’s DNA was all over Meredith’s room). This man said Guede confessed to having raped and stabbed Meredith in conjunction with “a friend” (who wasn’t Raffaele or Amanda, which is what the prosecution alleges). In fact, Guede was supposedly having a moral dilemma as to what to say during their appeal. (Guede had a separate trial and conviction from Amanda and Raffaele.) This story made more sense to me than the prosecution’s theories of a “sexual game gone bad” or a “Halloween Eve sacrifice.”
- Explanations as to why there were traces of Amanda and Raffaele’s DNA in a couple of items that the prosecution assigned as proof of their culpability.
- Insights on the people in Amanda’s life in prison and outside. I was especially touched by three people in her life: a Catholic priest who befriended Amanda—an agnostic—during her hardest times in prison (Don Saulo); one of her best friends from Seattle who moved to Perugia to be near Amanda after she was sentenced to 26 years in prison (Madison) and Laura, an American inmate who grew up in Ecuador and became sort of a foster mom or older sister to her. Amanda’s family is also commendable as they never abandoned Amanda and during her four-year-ordeal always made sure someone was in Italy on visiting days. Her stepfather went as far as to move to Perugia for some time. Amanda’s story, as sad as it is, also serves as a testimony that goodness is sometimes found in the most unexpected places.
I truly believe that Amanda’s problems stemmed from her immaturity and naivety at the time of her trip. Not only was she cavalier about who she spent time with (including working at a bar with people she barely knew) smoking pot on a regular basis and having sex with guys she’d just met. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in people her age. When I moved to the
to go to college, I had the
fortune of having a couple of family members here to guide me through the
process of moving to a different country and start a new life as an adult.
Also, my parents came with me and helped me settle in the dorms. When Amanda
arrived to US ,
she had nowhere to live and found her new roommates on a bulletin board. I
know, LOTS of college kids do this, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous.
ESPECIALLY in a different country where you barely speak the language and you don’t
know the “rules of the land.” Italy
By the end of the book, however, you see Amanda as a different woman. Not sure this has to do with the fact that Amanda is a writer (currently studying Creative Writing in Seattle) and she knows that in every journey, the hero must show change and growth, or that she truly matured with all the hardship she went through, but her transformation was evident to me.
Have you been following this case or read her memoir? Do you believe in her innocence? What do you think will happen now that her appeal got reversed? Do you think the
US will extradite her to ? Do you
think it’s fair that she was tried twice for the same crime? Italy
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