“It wasn’t just Adnan being indicted at this grand jury proceeding, it wasn’t just him being prosecuted. His faith, his ethnicity, his community–they were all on trial.”
― Rabia Chaudry,
Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry
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.
When the Serial podcast came out I was obsessed. Like many others the true crime narrative immediately captured my interest. Similarly, I also loved the Undisclosed podcast that Rabia Chaudry was part of. Therefore, it seemed natural to begin reading this book to continue learning about this case. Unfortunately, this book felt underwhelming to me.
I came into this book with preconceived notions. I try to avoid going into a book with any kind of expectations. But, this was a different case. I already had a great deal of knowledge on this topic from the start. In comparing the book and the podcasts I viewed the book as less compelling.
My first real issue with this book is that I view the title to be misleading. I bought this book to hear Adnan’s story. Instead I got Robia Chaudry’s story. Which, I would be fine with if I had been expecting this. Chaudry is tied up in Adnan’s story. She has a personal connection to the case and Adnan. It makes sense that we view things through her eyes. However, this book focused more on Chaudry’s personal life than the actual case itself at times. This made it difficult to stay invested in the storytelling.
Furthermore, the aspect of the podcasts that I really enjoyed was that they tried to be unbiased and present facts. This book seemed to do a complete 180. It was full of emotionally charged statements from Rabia. This led to some inconsistencies in the story and direct contradictions. Throughout the book I couldn’t help but think that this book seemed to present more problems and issues to hold against Adnan than it did information to exonerate him.
Overall, I was disappointed in this book. That is partially my fault for coming into it with such high expectations. At the same time I feel as though the book was not successful in keeping a consistent narrative backed by facts. Nonfiction should be entertaining but not at the cost of the facts that it is based upon. It was an ok book. I’m glad I read it. I’m just slightly disappointed.