18 Years Later: Why I Think Adnan Syed is Innocent



adnan young and innocent.jpg
Could this smiling seventeen-year-old be a cold-blooded killer?


Sarah Koenig’s podcast, Serial, investigates whether or not Adnan Syed committed the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, and leaves her audience hanging at the end of the first season. There are many different speculations to what happened during that fateful day on thirteenth of January in nineteen ninety-nine, but I am confident that Adnan is not the one who ended Hae’s life.

First of all, there is no hard evidence against Syed. Sarah even said it herself in the podcast that the only thing she knows that could be truly incriminating is his cell phone records. Outside of that, the court has nothing solid. In fact, the phone records may be his saving grace because it places him in a different location that afternoon. In addition to this, Asia McClain, a classmate of Adnan’s, says that she distinctly remembers seeing him at the library that afternoon at about the time Hae was murdered. Not everyone is as sure of Syed’s innocence as Asia though.


adnan and hae
It is hard to believe that Adnan is the one who brutally ended his young love’s life.


Jay, Adnan’s friend, seems to be set on the accusation he made: Adnan was the one who strangled Hae. This should not have been taken as seriously as it was though because there is no one that can attest his credibility. Jay could have easily had a grudge against his friend or even been the one who did it for all anyone knows. There is only a slim chance that the details he gave about that day were true, considering the fact that there are inconsistencies poking a hole through his stories everywhere. For example, Jay says that he was at the house on the night of the 13th, but Jen, his girlfriend says they were at the Westview Mall. Jay also seems to know a lot about the case and he was said to be pretty intimidated by the van and of nondescript people who were “threatening him.” This does not make sense for someone who has nothing to hide and regarding so, there is a definite possibility that Jay was at least a significant factor in the murder committed that day.


So the mystery ensues…


There is no way to know for sure who is telling the truth, and – as Koenig says in the episode – the question to ask is, “What is the utility of which lie?” There are many speculations that can be made about what happened to Hae Min Lee that afternoon, but a fact that I believe to be true is that Adnan Syed is not guilty.

To watch a scene from ABC News that elaborates on Syed’s case and talks with Asia McClain, click here.

Works Cited

Angelowicz, Ami. Adnan and Hae. Digital image. Investigation Discovery. N.p., 10 Nov. 2014. Web. 28 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “What We Know.” Audio blog post. Serial. N.p., 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 July 2017.

Macatee, Rebecca. A. Syed. Digital image. E News. N.p., 1 July 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.Asia

McClain Speaks Out About ‘Serial’s’ Adnan Syed. ABC News, 2016. YouTube. 10 Feb. 2016. Web. 28 July 2017.

Stone, Sasha. Hae Min Lee. Digital image. AwardsDaily. N.p., 27 May 2015. Web. 28 July 2017.




Feminist Criticism for ‘The Girl Who Was Saturday Night’

Here is my feminist criticism of ‘The Girl Who Was Saturday Night’ by Heather O’Neill. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who likes cats and French culture! Enjoy!

Koenig’s ‘Serial’ Strikes Syed’s Case Skillfully

Sarah Koenig’s ‘Serial’ has taken the world of podcasts by storm.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to and analyzing Sarah Koenig’s podcast, ‘Serial.’ I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful recording of her investigation of Adnan Syed’s alleged murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. It weaves a tale that you cannot help but be sucked into. At times I was convinced that Syed was innocent, and at others I believed he was the stone-cold killer that the media painted him to be. It was almost too easy to empathize with a person who is behind bars for the killing of a young girl, but that is what I liked about the podcast. You get to play the devil’s advocate in your head while following on, and you have the ability choose a truth to believe in.

adnan syed
Adnan Syed at the courthouse after a day of hearings for retrial.

This being said, I think Lee’s family has some negative feelings about the podcast’s popularity.  They say that “‘it remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed (our) family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae. (Fenton, The Baltimore Sun)” While Koenig looks at two possibilities as to what happened to their relative, the Lees feel uncomfortable – and even angry – that this whole investigation is being brought to light again through ‘Serial.’ They are thoroughly convinced that Adnan is to blame for the 19 year-old’s death.

hae min lee
Hae Min Lee (1980-1999), allegedly murdered by Syed.

Even though these are the sentiments of the family, it is understandable that Adnan has so many supporters. Fans who claim that they “just want him to get a new trial. (AFP, The Express Tribune)” have grown attached to the idea of his innocence. ‘Serial,’ the medium where so many have been made familiar with the case, does not hold a bias against him (if anything, for him) and transforms the case into something reachable. The audience doesn’t need to endure any stuffy police statements or government-endorsed beliefs. Instead, they listen to Koenig – an average woman who is simply fascinated with the murder – among other potential witnesses and even Syed himself. This, to me, gives way for the development of empathy for the alleged killer due to the of the lack of formalities and familiarity.

Hey, I get it. The podcast allows investigative journalism to have a new life – it gets its audience to care more through its convenient medium. People, especially millennials, are addicted as “a solid 38% (…) listen to podcasts according to Edison Research. (Podcast Motor)”  I know that for myself, there is no trial for ‘Serial’ podcast. It completely ensnares the imagination and will keep me hooked for many more episodes to come.

Works Cited

Fenton, Justin. “Hae Min Lee’s Family Says Syed Hearings Have ‘reopened Wounds Few Can Imagine’.” Baltimoresun.com. N.p., 07 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

AFP. “‘Serial’ Hero Adnan Syed Gets Second Chance in US Court.” The Express Tribune. N.p., 10 June 2017. Web. 21 July 2017.

“4 Ways Millennials Are Changing the Way We Consume Audio.” Podcast Motor. N.p., 29 Aug. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

The Archetypes of ‘Saturday Night’

Beautiful Montreal, the setting of this tale.

Over the past week, I’ve been reading Canadian author Heather O’Neill’s novel, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. The story incorporates elements of the dysfunctional family, fame, failure, and love seamlessly. But specific characters working through these certain topics can’t help but ring a bell in my mind. Resulting from examining types literary theory, I began to identify some archetypes within the novel.

First of all, O’Neill presents many archetypical characters that are familiar to ones seen in other stories. The twins, Nouschka and Nicholas, represent “the fallen stars” who were once famous and widely adored as children. As the son and daughter of a Quebec sensation they “were supposed to be geniuses who never did anything ordinary (O’Neill, 41),” but they are now are young adults who are trying to navigate the world just like everyone else.  Their love-hate relationship and co-dependancy may be considered toxic, but it’s the moments that they look out for each other that is truly noteworthy. They remind me of David and Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek because they are also brother and sister, have the same kind of relationship, were child stars, have distant parents, and are going through a rough patch in their lives.

Dan Levy as David Rose is basically Nicholas.

Étienne, their father and “a famous (and famously dissolute) drunken mess of a superstar folk singer (Oriana, Goodreads),” can be seen as filling two different roles: “the player,” because of his risqué pastimes, and “the deadbeat dad” because he seems to believe that performing and keeping up his social life is more important than raising his two children. He bears a resemblance to John Winchester from Supernatural as he is a father of two but is never around for his kids’ adult life because he favours his career. In relation to the effect of these neglectful parents, both sets of children were depended on to raise themselves after a certain age and to support their fathers, despite who they are, unconditionally. I think that Nicholas is afraid of becoming his father because “he owed Saskia three thousand dollars in child support. This was an impossible amount of money. (202)” This is intimidating because she is the young mother of his child, which is similar to his dad’s situation with Nicholas’ mother. Furthermore, Loulou, Étienne’s father and the siblings’ grandfather, is portrayed as “the eccentric old man” who serves as the comic relief – as well as both the caretaker (and the taken-care-of) to his grandchildren. He is reminiscent of Pierce from Community due to his love of swearing and obscenities in addition to his dependancy on others, despite being the “elder” of his group.

Chevy Chase as Pierce, the ultimate eccentric grandpa.

Similarly, this story also brings about many archetypical themes. The protagonist, Nouschka, finds herself on the journey to finding what she wants out of life and, more specifically, love. Does this seem familiar? According to a list created by Rachel Mork, this particular theme is one of the most used one in the scope in all fiction. I know this to be true because I have encountered it several times. A good example of this is Before I Fall because the young female protagonist is trying to find out the right thing to do, who to love, and what is most important in life as she muddles through her late teens. She makes many mistakes and feels guilty about them, like Nouschka, too.

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Take notes, ladies! Bob Ross speaks the truth!

Based on the journey archetype taken by the main character in this book, I predict that Nouschka will break up with Raphaël and she will finally see that he is not who she needs to be happy. Regarding her and Raphaël, “there is a feeling when we were together, that we were little kids dressing up as adults. (189)” Often when an unsure relationship is developed so early in a plot, it is deconstructed just as fast. In place of him, I believe she will return to her brother’s support and find another boyfriend. In addition, I have an eerie feeling that Loulou will pass away during the course of this story because of his ailments and it would be a literary mechanism to bring the twins closer together. Although, I secretly hope this doesn’t happen because the old man has grown on me.

But regardless of what The Girl Who Was Saturday Night brings, I look forward to being privy to the lives of the Tremblays and the chaos that ensues around them.

To see a review of this book and learn more about Heather O’Neill, check out this article by The Globe and Mail by clicking here.

Works Cited

O’Neill, Heather. The Girl Who Was Saturday Night. London: Quercus, 2015. Print.

Bride, Lauren, and Heather O’Neill. “Author Heather O’Neill Emerges from The Girl Who Was Saturday Night a Fully Formed Artist.” The Globe and Mail. HarperCollins, 21               Nov. 2014. Web. 12 July 2017.

O’Neill, Heather (Goodreads, and Oriana. “Oriana (Brooklyn, NY)’s Review of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.” Goodreads. N.p., 11 May 2014. Web. 13 July 2017.

Mork, Rachel. “The 12 Most Common Themes in Literature.” Life 123 (n.d.): n. pag. Print.



How Taking English Throughout High School Is Absolutely Worthwhile (Yes, Even As a Future Accountant!)

english class books

Some may see taking English in their senior year before going to university for sciences, or any other STEM program for that matter, as useless as taking calculus when planning on being a history major. But I believe that it may be more applicable to anyone’s future career – and life overall – than one may think.

In general, no matter what job someone might be considering for the future, all of them have one thing in common: the employee must be able to communicate with other people. More specifically, they need to know how to ace their interview. I personally wouldn’t want to hire anyone who wrote, “What are you’re expectations of me, as an employee, on a day-to-day basis?” It sticks out like a sore thumb, reads unprofessionally, and it gives the appearance that the person applying is a lot less intelligent than they actually are. “(Typos) are a major faux pas, and a mistake that might have your resume in the trash before it makes its way to the second round. (L. Higgins, HerCampus)”

job interview
Adam DeMamp from Workaholics, expressing my sentiments about poor grammar skills in the workplace.

In addition, almost all professionals are required to read and write for a significant portion of the workday. Even if they teach grade ten academic math, they will be sending emails as well as giving feedback on students’ report cards. If they are a biologist, they have to write proper lab reports and even publish their own research findings. Point being, nearly every job one can imagine has an aspect of what they learned in English class to it. As said by Darla Himeles on the Classroom website, “Learning to express yourself concisely, accurately and convincingly is not simply a box to check on an assessment test or a grading rubric; if you hope to write emails that earn respect, to enter any career in which communication is essential or simply to speak with authority, learning to write well is important.”

Finally, how impressive would the ability to quote Baudelaire and astound friends at dinner parties be? Wouldn’t the love of one’s life swoon if the other’s heart was poured out into a card on Valentine’s Day (with the correct uses of “your” and “you’re,” of course), or if they wrote them a beautiful poem complete with alliteration and metaphors “just because?” Yeah, that.

Aria Montgomery and Ezra Fitz from Pretty Little Liars (both of them are English majors, by the way).

Overall, I may be a bit biased because I have always been an “artsy” kid and loved this subject, but I truly believe that these reasons why English class is important justify my opinion – and hopefully sway or consolidate others’!

To read about the sub-categories of English class in high school, click here.