Monday, June 13, 2016

We Are Not Such Things

In 1993 Amy Biehl, a blonde California Fulbright scholar was killed in Cape Town, South Africa.  More than twenty years have passed since Amy, then 26, was killed.  I still remember watching the news clips of this event, and still think of Amy as a young woman.  In reality, if she were still alive, she would be nearly fifty years old.

Her all-American good looks and the press coverage her murder received left me wanting more information about what really happened to her.

We Are Not Such Things by Justine Van Der Leun is an account of what happened on August 25, 1993, the day of Amy's brutal attack.  It is also much more than that. Van Der Leun meets with the men who killed Amy. She talks to them, asks them questions, and tries to understand their motives.  She meets and befriends Amy's mother who founded The Amy Biehl Foundation along with Amys' father, Peter, who died in 2002.  

Van Der Leun lives in South Africa, and immerses herself in the culture and people.  

And as she works to understand what happened to Amy Biehl in 1993, she begins to realize that we may never know the truth.  

I was intrigued by this story from the start.  My background knowledge of what happened to Amy Biehl was not in-depth. I understood she had been brutally murdered, but was not sure why or by whom. 

We Are Not Such Things gives a great deal of information about Biehl's murder. It also provides background information on apartheid and the lives of the three men convicted of killing Biehl.  There is a great deal more to this story than I initially understood, and I finished this book feeling as though I had a greater understanding of the politics of that time and place.

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