Review: Waiting to Be Heard

June 19, 2013 Whitney Review 10 Comments

Review: Waiting to Be HeardWaiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox
Published by HarperCollins on April 30, 2013
Genres: Memoir
Source: Library

In the fall of 2007, twenty-year old college coed Amanda Knox left Seattle to study abroad in Perugia, Italy for one year. But that November 1, her life was shattered when her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, was murdered in their apartment. Five days later, Amanda was taken into custody and charged by the Italian police; her arrest and the subsequent investigation ignited an international media firestorm. Overnight, this ordinary young American student became the subject of intense scrutiny, forced to endure a barrage of innuendo and speculation. Two years later, after an extremely controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011 an appeals court overturned her conviction and vacated the charges. Free at last, she immediately returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now.

First and foremost, I would like to note that I checked out Waiting to Be Heard from the library.  I did not buy or receive a free copy, but I did read the book.

Why the disclaimer?  Because anything negative said about Waiting to Be Heard (particularly on Amazon) gets bombarded with accusations and automatically assumes you did not read the book.  There is such a thing as the First Amendment and I have a feeling these bullies are either publishers or members of the Friends of Amanda campaign.  I still dislike confrontation, hence this explanation.

First, I’d like to state my thoughts of the “Murder in Italy” before I read Waiting to Be Heard.

I followed the media frenzy of the Amanda Knox trial.  Yes, Foxy Koxy, but I also read articles written from other sources such as The Huffington Post and news coverage on CNN.  Thus, I was not relying on US Magazine.

This case is complex with my brain going every which way.  The only thing I am 100% sure of is that Rudy Guede raped and murdered Meredith Kercher, as his DNA was found inside her and in the toilet. But I still think there are some holes, waiting to be answered.

There were three things that stuck out at me.

First is the blood in the bathroom, how could Knox not  have seen the amount of blood covering the bathroom.  At one point, she commented that she thought it was menstrual blood.  Period blood has a distinct smell and color to it that any girl over the age of 13 would recognize.  I also thought it was a little weird that it was found in the sink, I’ve never heard of menstrual blood being found in the sink…

The crime scene has been defined as bungled.  Amanda’s alleged bloody footprint was cited as evidence and Raffaele’s DNA was found on Meredith Kercher’s bra clasp.  Although said bra clasp was not collected into evidence until 46 days after the murder.  How could this contaminated sample be looked upon as credible evidence, and if so shouldn’t the bloody footprint be discredited too?  But on the same coin who’s to say that the DNA wasn’t genuine or if the bra clasp had been collected 46 days earlier would it be more incriminating?

Thirdly,  I found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito’s behavior to be unsettling.  It has been said by both Knox and Sollecito that the kisses and funny faces were a way of comforting each other.  Regardless, it was still highly inappropriate.  There was also the thing about Amanda doing cartwheels (which she later clarifies as being the splits).  Either way it was immature.  Family and friends may see her kooky personality, but in a foreign country and in a police station no less, it probably would not be seen this way.

As for the coerced confession pointing the finger at Patrick  Lumumba,  Amanda actually went to the police office by her own accord after Raffaele was called down, tagging along as she was afraid to be alone.  She was interrogated for hours (without recording/proof I might add) and eventually came up with a conclusion the police were satisfied with, placing she and Patrick at the scene of the crime.  I do find the coerced confession plausible as several other cases have been “solved” through this tactic, ie West Memphis Three, and The New York Five.

I do not think Amanda Knox nor Raffaele Sollecito pulled the trigger, but I still think they know something.  In any event, I think they are guilty of being naive to the severity of the situation around them and paid with almost four years of their youth.

Then I watched the Diane Sawyer interview.

I thought the Diane Sawyer interview was a waste of an hour.  It did not give any new insight into the case and if anything Amanda Knox came off as cold and distant.  Yet it must have made some impact as I still wanted to read her memoir.

And finally, I read Waiting to Be Heard.

I usually go into memoirs knowing they will be a bit biased, who wants to paint themselves in an ugly light?  This was prominently seen in Waiting to Be Heard.  Knox’s memoir felt contrived.  I was a guest at a pity party, with a begging host.  Amanda Knox asked for sympathy and instead she just irritated me.

When Amanda first arrives in Italy, she and her sister are told to get on a bus which will take them directly to Perugia, instead, as she likes to walk decides to hike it in a country she is not familiar with and does not speak the language.  She and her sister Deanna get horribly lost and end up hitch-hiking a ride with an Italian guy.  Fortunately, all turned out well, but I was appalled by this poor decision and I felt showed that Amanda was not mature enough to go over to Italy in the first place.

Amanda also speaks freely of her experiences with casual sex and developing herpes, in which she will now be medication for the rest of her life.  First off, that is way too much information, but I also got the impression that she wanted us to pull out a box of tissues.  Newsflash, I am/will be on anti-epileptic medication my entire life so I’m all dried eye.

Arriving at the villa on the day in question, Amanda proclaims her thoughts on the open door to be:

“In hindsight, it seems that arriving home to find the front door open should have rattled me more.  I thought, That’s strange.  But it was easily explained.  The old latch didn’t catch unless we used a key.  Wind must have blown it open, I thought, and walked inside the house calling out,

“Filomena?  Laura?  Meredith? Hello?  Hello?  Anybody?” ~ Page 65
At the beginning of this review I mentioned my concerns of the blood in the bathroom,  Amanda addresses this with:

“I wasn’t alarmed by two pea-size flecks of blood in the bathroom sink that Meredith and I shared.  There was another smear on the faucet.  Weird.  I’d gotten my ears pierced.  Were they bleeding?  I scratched the droplets with my fingernail.  They were dry.

Meredith must have nicked herself.

It wasn’t until I got out of the shower that I noticed a reddish-brown splotch about the size of an orange on the bathmat.  More blood.  Could Meredith have gotten her period and dripped?  But then, how would it have gotten on the sink.”  ~ pages 65-66

I am a stickler for locking doors whether I am in or out of the house.  I associate country houses with In Cold Blood and unlocked doors with Helter Skelter.  That being said I would enter an unlocked, open door with caution and an eerily quiet house with a dirty bathroom (especially since Amanda and Meredith were considered neat-nicks) would set off a few bells.  But that’s just me.

Amanda originally went back to the villa on November 2 to take a shower, explaining:

“After that first night, and for seven days, Raffaele and I were a thing.  We spent all the time we could together.  After breakfast, I’d run home to shower –his was cramped–and change for class. ~ page 55

 But just a few paragraphs before…

“When we took a shower together, he washed my hair and then toweled me dry, even cleaning out my ears with a Q-tip.  To me, it was intensely tender; it felt as intimate as sex.” ~ page 54

So it’s too cramped for one but not two?  That makes no sense…

Then the inevitable happens, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are arrested and ultimately convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

I did feel sympathetic towards her when she was first admitted to Capanne Prison, as she was told to strip, given an examination and had pictures taken while in a state of undress.  This must have been terrifically humiliating leaving Amanda completely vulnerable.  Her time in prison would be hard for anyone to endure.

I found the first half of the book was presented as sloppy and hectic, making it hard to follow.  Perhaps this was intentional, as the murder was both those things as well or maybe it’s just coincidence.  Either way, I found it difficult to comprehend and not because of the supposed miscarriage of justice.  Once Amanda came to the realization that just because she believed she was innocent did not mean the courts would see it that way, the tone of the book mellowed and found it easier to digest the facts (or lack thereof)

I saw Waiting to Be Heard as a summary or rehash  of the case and didn’t see any difference  or originality in its presentation as predecessor articles.  In other words, I didn’t see anything invigorating in Knox’s memoir.

I found Waiting to Be Heard to be self-serving, with the writing poor at best.  It can only be defined as supermarket trash.  Overall, I don’t think Waiting to Be Heard was brazen enough to change preconceived notions.

Lastly, with all the media frenzy surrounding Amanda Knox I think the true victim is forgotten, Meredith Kercher.


10 responses to “Review: Waiting to Be Heard

  1. I never really followed this trial intentionally, but of course know some of the details just from being conscious during the media frenzy. Though this book isn't something I would ever think to pick up, I really enjoyed your well-written and thorough review!
    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

    • I'm into true crime and this was one of the cases I followed partically because of how strange it is/was.

      I was really nervous about posting a review on Waiting to Be Heard as people feel so strongly about it, so I'm glad you liked it.

  2. Whether or not Ms Knox is innocent or guilty, I do not know, and it's not for me, a casual consumer of the news media, to judge. But I agree with your last sentence. I find it troubling how the focus of this case is on her, almost overlooking the young woman who was murdered. As such, I find the idea of this book distasteful to say the least. But thank you for the very thoughtful and fair review.

  3. Very insightful, Whitney. I would have to agree with you regarding your opinions on the case. And your last point is what I find most relevant. The victims in these cases are so often forgotten and that is the biggest crime of all.

    • Thank you Michelle, I do think it is sad that we can't remember that Casey Anthony's daughter's name is Caylee,Nichole Brown Simpson's friend Ronald Goldman was also murdered, and Michael Moore, Stevie Branch and Christopher Byers; the three eight-year olds who were murdered in the West Memphis Three trial. (although, they were eventually exonerated). Just to name a few.

  4. Fascinating. I've been itching to read a review of this one. When I watched the Dateline special, I was convinced she was innocent and the Italians botched the scene and evidence collection. But it's interesting how reading her book, from her point of you, has you thinking she knew something. GREAT review sugar!

    • I'm happy to hear you liked my review Juju!

      I searched the internet before writing this review and excluding Goodreads/Amazon (and like I said earlier felt like Amanda Campaign supportors) came up empty handed.

      I still think the Italian Police botched their investigation, but while reading my gut said that something didn't feel right. In the end, I'm not sure if Meredith will ever have complete justice.

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