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.
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.