MINI PENNY: Weekstagram // May 11

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Weekstagram // May 11

This week I started (and finished) a book that I've been wanting to read for a long while — Life After Death by Damien Echols. I could not put it down.

I put off this read for so long because, well, I was a bit scared of it. Being very familiar with the West Memphis 3 story, I figured that the book would frustrate and anger me in the same way that the handling of the murders and trial did when I first learned of them. I was surprised to find that this book speaks very little of the actual trial and instead he focuses on his own childhood in contrast (and comparison) to his time spent on death row and injustices in the legal system. It's haunting and sad and very, very emotional.

Now that I have finished it, I'm disappointed that I didn't read it sooner — something about it motivated me to work that much harder and appreciate that much more. What intrigued me about Damien Echols from the beginning is that I found myself having so many similarities as him; being the 'weird' kid who listened to 'weird' music amid an extremely religious and non-creative town. I liked skateboarding culture. I liked punk rock. I read every Stephen King book I could get my hands on. I was intrigued by things outside of the Christian-norm (and regularly my atheism was confused with satanism by my classmates. I was often ridiculed for this but at a young age considered myself too intelligent to bother dealing with them). Damn, I even treasured my sticker collection the same way that Damien did.

Trying to understand the experience through Damien's eyes humanized the story for me in ways that the documentaries never did. His inward and outward struggles are an incredible insight — and the fact that this man came out of prison with so much positive energy and so little hatred is a testament to his strength. His strength is something I hope to emulate, even in the smallest form, in my own life.

Recommended Read: Life After Death by Damien Echols. Recommended Watch: Paradise Lost Trilogy and West of Memphis.

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