What comes to mind when you think of a cartwheel? Third-grade recess? The Olympics? How about Amanda Knox?
As the highly publicized trial reopens, Jennifer duBois’s novel Cartwheel--a tale of a foreign-exchange student accused of murder--also hits stands. And despite its fictional claims, duBois’s narrative mirrors so many details from the 2007 case, it’s hard not to compare notes.
First, the title. When Knox was arrested and held for questioning, she allegedly showed off in a fit of gymnastic splendor. Lily Hayes, duBois’s protagonist, does the same. The victim? Also her roommate. There’s even the boyfriend, the houseparents and the job at a local bar.
Yet there are differences. Set in Buenos Aires, Argentina (as opposed to Perugia, Italy), the fictional murder mystery is full of intense character analysis. We loved tapping into the psyche of the prosecutor (who begins to doubt his fervor for the conviction), as well as learning what was really going through Hayes’s mind the night of the incident.
As with the real-life story, there’s a helluva lot of dramatic tension (Is she guilty? Innocent? Can either of those even be proved?), though we could have done without duBois’s occasionally purple prose.
Our closing argument: We loved this novelized account, but we can’t wait to go back and read Knox’s point of view in her candid memoir.