Book Report: Abroad


What’s The Buzz?: Unless you were living under a rock for the last few years, chances are you’ve heard of Amanda Knox. The American college student was studying in Perguia, Italy in 2007 when her roommate Meredith Kercher was murdered. The new novel Abroad is heavily inspired by this case, however it’s actually told from the perspective of Meredith, who in this fictionalized account is renamed Tabitha, or Taz. Based on the attention that case got, you can bet this one will earn plenty of buzz too.

What’s The Plot?: As mentioned above, Abroad is told from the perspective of Tabitha, a bit of a wallflower hailing from Ireland who chooses to branch out and reinvent herself by taking a year to study in Italy. Once there, she’s swept up in a group of popular, wealthy British girls named the B4. Taz feels on top of the world – suddenly she’s going to glamorous parties, wearing posh clothes, getting into the best restaurants, all without spending a time. But as Tabitha gets closer to the girls and begins to notice their self-destructive tendencies, her beautiful yet quirky American roommate, Claire, warns her that the girls might not be the best choice of friends. Tabitha continues to deny that there is anything dysfunctional about the B4, even as their darkest secrets come tumbling out, including how Taz fits into their foursome. As it is, Taz is frustrated with Claire’s flighty behaviour, particularly as it interferes with Tabitha’s own romantic life. All the while, Tabitha is unknowingly (but also knowingly – the story is told from her deceased self’s point of view) marching toward her untimely, unfortunate death.

How Close Is This To The Meredith Kercher / Amanda Knox Case?: Pretty darn close. If you’ve followed the story in any capacity, you will recognize a lot of the key details infused into these pages. The big twist naturally is the fact it’s told from the ‘Meredith’ character’s perspective, as a sharp reminder that the real victim in this unfortunate tragedy is the girl who was murdered, moreso than the girl who was (potentially) wrongly convicted. Although you know that Tabitha is going to die, the surprising thing is how intriguing it is to find out how she meets her end. There are plenty of candidates, although if you know the actual story pretty well, then you’ll find the ending of this fictional account is pretty in line with what the courts have somewhat determined – with a rather sympathetic light cast on the Amanda Knox (‘Claire’) character. That being said, it’s also pretty refreshing to have one possible version of this girl’s life explored – before the murder, before the unfortunate infamy. It’s a pretty spectacular, almost fantastical, imagining of the events leading up to her death, but it’s still plenty interesting.

Beach Read Potential?: Who doesn’t enjoy getting wrapped up in a murder mystery while at the beach? Despite knowing where the story is headed, Abroad still provides quite a quandary as to who killed Tabitha and why. Of course, the real focus of this story is a young girl’s semester abroad and how she could get swept up in the chaos that ultimately contributes to her end. The lavish parties, exotic setting and mean girl drama also makes for a bit of a soapy, intriguing read that’s ideal for an afternoon hammock swing.

Who Should Read This Book?: I’ve looked at some other peoples’ reviews of Abroad and it’s surprising how few of them connected the dots to the Meredith Kercher / Amanda Knox case (there is an afterword that spells it out more specifically). It seems that people that don’t make the connection find the book less enjoyable, so to that end, I will say – I’d primarily recommend this to people who have heard of the case, even remotely. That being said, it’s still an insightful, if eerie, look at how abruptly one’s life can change at this young age – if you’ve thought about studying abroad, are interested in true crime stories, or simply enjoying reading about the dynamics of female friendship, consider this one.

Abroad just hit shelves last week, and retails for $22.95. Consider picking it up for your college-aged kid as a cautionary tale this summer, or for that true crime lover in your life. And of course, I do have a copy of this scintillating novel for you to read. Here’s how to enter:

1) Tell me in the comments below by July 11, 2014 – How much do you know about the Meredith Kercher / Amanda Knox case? Why are you interested in reading this book?

2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around July 12, 2014 to select the winner(s), who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.

3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.

4) Bonus Entry: Follow Random House of Canada on Twitter. Tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why this ripped from the headlines read is tops on your summer reading list! Post a link to your Tweet below to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.

5) Bonus Entry #2: Add this book to your to-read list on GoodReads, and leave a link back to the page it’s on below to earn yourself another bonus entry.


23 Responses to “Book Report: Abroad”
  1. katydidit21 says:

    I don’t know much about the actual case other than what has been reported in the news, but I do love a good murder-mystery so I think I would enjoy this read.

  2. Holly says:

    I would love to read this book! I was living in London when it happened and it was in the papers everyday. Would be interesting to see the twist they put on it.

  3. cookie3 says:

    I’ve been following the story on the news but would love to read this book to see the author’s take on this story.

  4. Anne Derkat says:

    Heard a bit about it on the news. The book would be interesting as it would add so much more to the speculation and knowledge.

  5. GARRY S says:

    heard a little about it

  6. Joan G. says:

    I can remember the Amanda Knox on the new nearly everyday – with all the twists and turns, I’d like to read the book to refresh my memory of this tragic case.

  7. Susan says:

    This has certainly been a well-publicized case, and was made into a movie for television. Not sure how I feel about using this tragic story as fodder for a book, but think it would be an interesting read.

  8. Audrey Skinner says:

    I followed the case regularly when it was in the news. I would really like to read the book because I believe it will be very intriguing.

  9. beewbedard says:

    dont know much – but would really love to read this

  10. beewbedard says:

  11. Susan T. says:

    I have watched quite a bit of news coverage on the case. I feel bad for Amanda Knox being caught up in this in another country. At least she speaks Italian fluently. I am really interested in seeing this story from the other perspective.

  12. Angela Mitchell says:

    I’ve seen a lot of shows and have read several articles about the case. I like reading fictionalized accounts especially ones with a mystery element.

  13. janicour says:

    I followed this in the papers, and know some of the mystery. Sounds like a real interesting book!

  14. janicour says:

  15. linnett says:

    I know a bit about it have followed the newspaper stores, hard to decide if she is guilty or not, would love to read the book, thanks

  16. baylou says:

    I’ve added Abroad; it is #839 on my To Read Shelf on Goodreads:

  17. baylou says:

    I’ve seen a bit in the news about the case in Italy. Been to that country myself, but never in that much trouble there, or quite anywhere else on the globe. Hard to imagine. That’s part of the appeal of Abroad — the author has tried to imagine that!

  18. Leah M says:

    I followed the case on the news quite a bit. I’m really interested in the book…it sounds like it could be a controversial read. I’d like to see how the author presents such a widely known case in story form.

  19. Athena says:

    I know some, and just think this would be an interesting read

  20. Lori P says:

    I’ve followed the real-life story quite closely in print, TV news and network “news magazines”. The draw for this book for me would be to see how closely the fictional story portrayed in Abroad tracks the real one. I agree that this would be a very interesting read.

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