Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry

9781780894881 (1)

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.

WHERE CAN I GET IT: This one won’t be available at regular chain stores as it’s an obscure-ish case to Australian readers but it is published by Penguin here in Australia and is orderable. Inner city stores will be more likely to stock it, but Book Depository and Audible or Borrow Box are your best options


WHAT CAN I EXPECT: murder, teen love, conspiracy, injustice, religious profiling, non-fiction

As someone who has listened to Serial and Undisclosed in the entireties, I did not “enjoy” reading this book, if you can actually ever enjoy reading a book about someone else’s plight. I think non-fiction like this is not meant for enjoyment but to inform. It’s for that reason that I have rated this so low. I did not learn anything new, nor anything I could not have garnered from Serial or Undisclosed.

I don’t like Rabia Chaudry’s writing and I felt that there was copious amounts of text that were irrelevant to Adnan’s story. Much like there was copies amounts of information that was irrelevant to the state of Maryland’s case against Adnan Sayed.
I believe very much in Adnan Sayed’s innocence and that he was unfairly convicted for the murder of Hae. But I also do not feel that this book has done any significant work toward improving his chance at freedom.

I would not have completed this had I read the print edition, and the audio edition was hard to listen to in the end because Rabia Chaudry narrates. I have issues with how she speaks, she is not clear and mispronounces more words than is suitable for a professionally published audiobook. This is also the first audiobook I have come across with mistakes in sentence structure being recorded, but I cannot speak as to whether this error also occurs in the print edition.

The big downfall of this audiobook for me though was the tenancy for it to slide into the Rabia Show territory. I’m not saying, by any means, that she is some megalomaniac trying to gain power by stealing the show, so to speak. But to my understanding this was to be a book entirely about Adnan, his case, justice for Hae and Adnan gaining freedom. Am I supposed to care about Rabia’s marriage breakdown and subsequent remarriage? her problems with her in-laws, her squabbles with Sarah Koenig, trips to Pakistan at key moments in the case, her deciding to accept money for speaking engagements or the birth of her children?
I also do not care about her aspirations to become a fiction writer. Go do it, it doesn’t need to be part of the story about Adnan, IT IS NOT RELEVANT.

Rabia said herself, in printed text within the book that ‘I had never given much thought to writing a book about Adnan’s case’ and that ‘my little blog and Undisclosed felt like enough’ and also that she only seriously considered the idea when she was offered the chance at publication by a publisher eager to get the exclusive rights before anyone else, who used the very cunning sentence “if you don’t write it someone else will” and she took the chance.

Her thinking was that nobody outside the case could be as accurate and could possibly put a negative slant on the story as it relates to Adnan, or seem to side with the state of Maryland as serial did. My thought is that she was too close to the story to write it without her own life colouring things. A journalist would never be allowed to write a story in which they were directly involved.

This would be good to read if you’ve never heard Serial or Undisclosed, but if you have, I wouldn’t bother. #freeAdnan

Final rating: 2/5 stars

-Sam xxoo


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