(Website, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by St. Martin's Press on August 9, 2016
Genres: Biography, Crime, Law & Crime
Serial told Only Part of the Story…
In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig's investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners
But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State's case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence -- among many other points -- and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan's Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.
Like millions of other people I was obsessed with Season 1 of the podcast Serial that investigated and picked apart the murder of 18 year old Hae Min Lee and the subsequent guilty verdict of 17 year old Adnan Syed for the crime.
First, I have to tell you all that I love real crime stories… I honestly think I should have gone into Forensics in real life because the whole aspect of the investigations just completely intrigues me. That said, the law end of it is incredibly confusing and frustrating to me at times.
I can tell you up front that I don’t believe that Adnan is guilty of this crime… I feel like there isn’t enough evidence in this case that gets you past the “beyond a reasonable doubt” that this jury apparently didn’t pay attention to when convicting him and add that to the many changing stories of the states ‘star witness” and the half-assed investigation by the police and prosecutor, the incompetency of the original defense attorney and I’ve got my own conclusions and thoughts on who might have done this.
I decided to read this via audiobook because I felt it would be an easier way for me to ingest the information Rabia Choudry is providing, and I think that was a perfect choice for me because Rabia told the story in a clear and concise way and her narration was wonderfully done. You could tell when she felt emotional about something that was happening and that really helped a lot with the story because it is a lot of legal information and facts that you really have to ingest to get the full story but you need that balance of the personal to really keep the story part of this interesting.
What I will say is that this story for me, was really more Rabia’s story than it was Adnan’s. What I mean by that is that because this is from Rabia’s perspective, it’s more about how Adnan’s story has impacted Rabia’s which was interesting enough in itself and I don’t think had to be touted as Adnan’s story to get me to read it. While this really rehashes a lot of what you learned by listening to Serial you also get to find out about some of the stuff that was edited out of the podcast… that said, there wasn’t a ton of new information here until the end where you get some more information about Don (Hae’s boyfriend at the time) who wasn’t really investigated because he supposedly had a rock solid alibi… which if you listen/read, you’ll find out actually has quite a few holes in it.
What I also found interesting here is that Rabia really shares a lot about the Muslim faith and some misconceptions that people might have about it. You also get a better understanding about how Adnan’s Religion and the biases the prosecution had, played a big part in his conviction, (something that Serial didn’t really delve into).
Choudry did a really good job of laying out the details, providing in depth information about the trial and subsequent appeals and the added personal letters from Adnan were a much needed touch of humanity in this story filled with lots of legal information.
If you get as engrossed as I do with true crime stories and haven’t yet heard about Adnan’s case, I highly recommend first listening to Serial and then checking out Choudry’s own podcast Undisclosed where she delves deeper into the case… then grab this book for more of the personal side of the story… the impact Adnan’s incarceration has had on his family and friends and yes, on Adnan himself. It’s an in-depth look at how the current legal system can sometimes absolutely fail.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future because Adnan’s story isn’t quite done… after 17 years in prison, he has been granted a new trial, and a chance to clear his name and hopefully prove things that should have come out in the original and hopefully we’ll hear from Choudry as the process to clear Adnan of these charges continues.
Additionally, I have been listening the the podcast Undisclosed that Choudry and two other lawyers did in 2015/2016 that really goes in depth (even more so than Serial) about the evidence and the testimony and they really break down the legal aspects of the case and make it more understandable. I highly recommend it!