Top critical review
Overall found it tough to read for various reasons
Reviewed in Australia on 4 June 2020
Ok, so mixed review about this book, hence a 3 star rating. Honestly, I didn't finish the book. I loved it at first, then slowly got more and more confused and lost, and I stopped feeling connected to the story and started feeling that the whole thing was bizzare.
At first I was absolutely fascinated. I agree with other reviewers in that the most fascinating part of Schapelle's story isn't whether or not she committed the crime. It's how she was treated, and the huge sentence she was given for a comparatively small crime.
Firstly, common sense says that she probably didn't do the crime.. Why would anyone pack 4kg of marijuana in a boogie board when they're going on a holiday with their sister and friends? It seems ridiculous. Only an idiot would assume they could get that through Australian border security
Secondly Schapelle's description of how the evidence was handled makes it sound like it not a single person was competent in their job. To me this bordered on incredulous, it sounds like not a single police officer in the whole country competently handle evidence, or a legal case.
Also, oh my goodness, the descriptions of her legal team bordered again on the ludicrous. Did Schapelle seriously have a lawyer who just sat there and cried the whole time? Honestly, when Ron was claiming he spent $500000 on her defence, why wasn't part of that on a better lawyer? She couldn't afford a better one cos she'd spent the money her family raised on the incompetent one.
Lets be real here. Even if she DID commit the crime, the sentence was absolutely inhumane. Schapelle talked about girls in her cell who were actual legit murderers, and yet they only had a few years on their sentence. It seemed her crime was almost a minor offence compared to all her cellmates, yet they all seemed to have shorter sentences to her. How absolutely unfair that drug trafficking carries such huge penalties, including the death sentence, yet a murderer only got a few years. Also how the hell is it ok to treat prisoners so badly? Their living conditions were horrendous, their treatment barbaric.
So what stopped me from finishing the book? Well, I read up until she got the initial sentence of 20 years in prison, and returned to her cell with the other girls to mull that over.
Previously, her descriptions of people's behaviour in jail, of the psychology of the guards, of her own emotional trauma etc, was all realistic and made me feel for her. So much so that I had to take breaks from reading, I found it honestly traumatic to know that she suffered so badly.
But then the tone of the book changed. She started repeating herself over and over, she went back and roth in the story, stuff wasn't explained well, things stopped making sense. She really needed to explain what was going on with that finacier and her lawyer better, because I really could not understand why that was allowed to happen. And then she went and agreed to letting the same lawyer handle her appeal. Like I get she was shell-shocked and bullied into it, but seriously. That's where I put the book down. i just could not understand why she was doing the things tshe was doing, why certain decisioons were being made etc. if she'd expalined her mindset better, I could have understood maybe.
And she stopped explaining her feelings well. She went off on this tangent about what God wanted for her life, and about "Love and Light" and her family, and it just repeated the same stuff over and over. Would have been fascinating to explore how religion held her together, about her emotions regarding her family in deeper detail. But it just became sanctimonious and this constant repetition of "i'm a good person, I don't deserve this".
Anyway, so I didn't finish the book. I just couldn't continue on anymore, it just stopped being a realistic exploration of a real person's tragedy.