Cartwheel is a fictionalization account of the murder of Meredith Kercher. Amanda Knox was Meredith’s roommate abroad in Perugia, Italy and was convicted of homicide, along with her boyfriend at the time and another man who lived nearby. Knox’s conviction was eventually thrown out but the case garnered a lot of media attention, for obvious reasons.
I personally know quite a bit about the case, but am by no means an expert. There were very obvious parallels between the Amanda Knox case and Cartwheel, but at the same time there were many big differences. The biggest one was that Lily’s boyfriend Sebastien was not charged with a crime in the book. Sebastien was actually probably my biggest issue in Cartwheel. He was probably the most annoying character I have ever come across. I typically am not a reader that has to “like” the characters to enjoy a book, but my disdain for Sebastien really hampered my enjoyment of this book. I also thought Katy and Lily were annoying as well and the first half of the book really dragged for this reason.
Eventually, as the book gained momentum with Katy’s death and the continuing investigation (the book was not a linear narrative and the book actually begins with Lily’s family traveling to see her and then goes back and forth until the murder is eventually recounted), I started to warm up a little. Even so, I felt that there was so much build up but Katy’s relationship with Lily was never really explained, at least not to my satisfaction, and then the actual trial was barely mentioned.
I am not sure how I would have felt about Cartwheel had I not been familiar with the Amanda Knox case. I think I would have been just as annoyed with the characters, but it’s possible I would have viewed Lily a little differently. The pacing of the novel would still be an issue for me either way as well. I wish this had worked out better for me because I really love the idea of it, I just maybe expected too much with how it should be executed.
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