Nonfiction

Book Review – Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

Goodreads Summary

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 adnans storyfriend, 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.

Rating

5 stars

Review

I should start this review by telling you that I’m a huge fan of Rabia Chaudry and her (and Susan and Colin’s) podcast, Undisclosed.  I’ve listened to every episode (some more than once).  I’ve read her blog and tweeted her.  I’m invested in this case.

It was really interesting to read the backstory of the phenomenon that was Serial.  I knew Rabia brought the case to Sarah Koenig, but to read Rabia’s thoughts about the podcast were incredibly enlightening.  Hearing from Adnan was also incredibly interesting.

I have believed from Episode 1 of Serial that Adnan was innocent.  Having listened to Undisclosed and the Truth and Justice (formerly Serial Dynasty) podcasts have proved that ten times over.   After reading this book, I have an even deeper respect and empathy for Adnan Syed.  He’s a genuinely good person.  I don’t believe he murdered Hae.

In terms of the writing, I felt the book was a little long and detail heavy in some places.  I would have liked to hear about Tanveer (Adnan’s brother) and his reconciliation with his family.  I would have liked to have heard more about Jenn Pusateri and Stephanie.

I could hear Rabia’s voice as I read Adnan’s story.  It’s a story that is still continuing, and will hopefully end with Adnan going home to his family.  I would recommend this book to anyone.  A well-written book.

Happy reading.

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Podcasts

Why Maryland would be foolish to retry Adnan Syed

As by now you’ve heard, Adnan Syed, subject of Serial Season 1, has been granted a new trial and his conviction vacated.  Now it’s a matter of getting Adnan bail and getting him the hell out of prison as fast as possible.

The State of Maryland will likely push to retry Adnan for Hae’s murder.  Here are some reasons why they shouldn’t.

  • Obviously, the cell tower data, which was at the forefront of Adnan’s first trial, has been proven to be unreliable.  That would obliterate the state’s timeline as to when Hae’s body was buried (which the Undisclosed team did as well).  The state would have to come up with a whole new timeline, which would mean…
  • Jay would have to testify again.  Anyone who has listened to Serial and Undisclosed knows that Jay lies.  Constantly.  He has about nine versions of what happened the day that Hae died, including the infamous “trunk pop”, which has been disproven by medical experts.  Even if the state called Jay to testify, Jay would likely plead the 5th and be an ineffective witness.
  • Asia’s alibi would come into play.  Two days after Adnan’s arrest, Asia wrote to Adnan stating that she saw him at the library at the supposed time of Hae’s death.  Asia would be called as a witness, and her testimony would again blow the state’s timeline.
  • Justin and Adnan’s team of attorney’s would be able to introduce other possible suspects.  Don should be very worried now that the new trial has been granted, because he will most definitely be called to testify, since his alibi has been proven to be false by Bob.
  • All the evidence the Undisclosed team found would be put into play.  Hae’s paycheck not being cashed, the lividity and most damning the tapes of Jay’s interviews with detectives when they tap, tap, tapped Jay through questioning.  I’m sure Ritz and McGillivary are in great moods today (sarcasm).
  • Adnan has a competent attorney now.  Justin is not going to let things slip through the cracks like Christina G (rest in peace) did.  He’s going to follow up on every lead at his disposal.

Sarah Koenig originally brought us the story of Adnan, and relayed it to us beautifully.  However, Adnan getting a new trial would not be possible if not for Rabia Chaudry, Susan Simpson and Colin Miller from the Undisclosed team.  The details they uncovered about this case were amazing.  Bob Ruff from the Truth & Justice podcasts also made significant discoveries relating to Don and his alibi.  Congratulations to all of them on their hard work and dedication, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Lastly, congratulations to Asia McClain, who gave birth to her third child on the same day Adnan’s conviction was vacated.

Have a fantastic 4th of July holiday!