Meredith Kercher’s father John on the life and death of his daughter in the shadow of Amanda Knox

The crime

Meredith Kercher, 21, was murdered in November of 2007, in Perugia, Italy.

The story

For the first time, Meredith’s father John Kercher speaks out about both the life of his daughter, and the trials and tribulations the family faced after her untimely passing. While great in theory, his book — Meredith — loses its way less than midway through.

As the story opens, Kercher makes sure to discuss his reason for writing the book in the first place.

Despite everything that has happened since that night in November 2007, it still seems as though nobody knows anything about the real Meredith, and my hope is that, through writing Meredith, I can share with the world something of the wonderful girl who was our daughter and sister. (2)

Admitting it was tough to do, Kercher starts his book out beautifully — he discusses Meredith’s birth, her love of the winter season, and her fascination with bedtime stories in the second chapter. Using anecdotes that only a father would know about Meredith’s quirky childhood personality, Kercher definitely does his daughter’s memory a huge service. While those who kept track of the case surely knew about Kercher’s crime scene, they didn’t know how she once dressed as Slash from Guns N’ Roses at a young age, in a prank against her brother. (While the book contains two separate selections of vivid color photos, sadly a picture of this moment was left out.)

Meredith was an avid fan of Friends, and it makes her seem a bit more like us — instead of just a murder victim, she was a young girl who appreciated beloved sitcoms. Her fondness of the show only sparked more memories for Kercher, who often watched the show with her.

Meredith had an incredible memory, and I remember that once, when I missed one of the episodes of the show and asked her what had happened in it, she recited the whole half-hour of it, practically word for word. (42)

But then the book takes a turn — and that turn happens during the fourth chapter, titled “The Investigation.” From there on out, the book describes everything that’s already out about the Amanda Knox trial, from a skewed perspective. Despite multiple claims that the DNA evidence wasn’t a reliable source, and notes that the crime scene was tainted by investigators, Kercher still believes that Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito are directly responsible for his daughter’s death — and it’s an opinion he refuses to let go of. It seems as if Kercher can’t drop his own theories, and the book quickly switches from heartwarming to factually distorted.

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Granted, the trial and investigation should have definitely been mentioned in Kercher’s story — not only is it why Meredith’s name is known, but it’s obviously tied to her death — but having it outweigh the personal memories that he has of his own daughter is, well, a bit criminal. If Kercher wanted the public to know about his daughter outside of the widely publicized trial, he definitely failed.

Much of the book also reads as a high school yearbook — multiple friends, acquaintances, and work colleagues include a sentence or two about how Meredith, or “Mez” as she was lovingly called, had touched their lives. But while many of these sentiments are nice, and definitely personalize the story (and in some cases, illustrate Meredith as a person), the sheer volume of recollections makes it seem like Kercher was struggling to meet a specific word count.

Meredith is definitely worth reading if you’re still fascinated by the Amanda Knox trial — and if you are, the first three chapters shouldn’t be skipped. Learning a bit more about the young woman who was murdered in such a confusing manner adds a new layer to the story that we’ve never heard before. But if you fully believe that Amanda Knox is innocent, or just don’t want to rehash the same details that every other news article and documentary has repeated throughout the last nine years, it’s not worth the full price.

Karen Belz is a writer from Pennsylvania, born and raised in New Jersey. You can find her work on Previously.TV, HelloGiggles, and Bustle.

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