After the 2007 murder of her British housemate, Meredith Kercher, as they studied abroad in Umbria, Italy, American Amanda Knox was blistered in the European press. Now “Foxy Knoxy” (a middle-school soccer nickname seized upon by the tabloids) tells her side of the story in HarperCollins’ just-released Waiting to Be Heard. With a nod to the sensationalist coverage, Knox, now 25, describes her sexual escapades during those first few weeks in Italy (she says they represented a conscious decision to make sex “be about empowerment and pleasure, not about, Does this person like me?”) and drug use (she admits, “Around our house, marijuana was as common as pasta”).
As for the murder itself, Knox changes her description of the night of the crime several times — mostly, but not always, with good reason. She does believably argue that she was coerced into accusing her innocent boss, Patrick Lumumba: She says investigators shouted at her for hours and even slapped her. The chapters that follow — her two trials, the DNA evidence (or lack of it), and the prosecutorial misbehavior that ultimately overturned her conviction in October 2011 — are overlong and familiar to anyone who followed her case. (The Italian judicial system has ruled that it will retry Knox; if she’s convicted, they’d have to ask the U.S. for extradition.) Still, the section on her prison years rivets. It’s painful to see the smart, beautiful, incredibly naive exchange student of the first few pages turn hard and brittle as she navigates the labyrinthine Italian prison system. The bottom line is this, though: Waiting to Be Heard won’t make either Knox’s detractors or her supporters change anything they believe about her. Parents of college kids, though, might rethink that junior year abroad. B