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The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  12,874 ratings  ·  2,120 reviews

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working on the retrial defence of death-row convicted murderer and child molester, Ricky Langley, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti death penalty. But the moment Ricky's face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes, the moment she hears

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published May 18th 2017 by Macmillan (first published May 16th 2017)
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Amber Thank you to everyone who took the time to answer my question. I still have yet to read the book, but I will not be putting it in my classroom based…moreThank you to everyone who took the time to answer my question. I still have yet to read the book, but I will not be putting it in my classroom based on your feedback, so thank you for sharing. I do hope to read it myself someday though as it sounds like a good read.(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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Mike Scalise
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fan of true crime, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of memoir, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of legal thrillers, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of beautiful language, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of page-turners, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of boundlessly empathetic storytelling and brilliant questions about the meaning of acceptance, this book is excellent. If you are a fan of a scene in which one character manages, maybe, to ...more
Diane S ☔
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4+. Powerful and emotionally raw, I have never read anything quite like this before. Pedophiles and the harm they cause, the lasting effects on their victims, whether in family or without, the subject makes this a difficult book to read. As a law student the author comes across a case involving the death of a six year old and the offender, at the time on death row, a young man named Ricky. Although she doesn't believe in the death penalty she is shocked to find how much she wants this man to ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As I was nearing the conclusion of this book, I dreaded the prospect of reviewing it. As is obvious to anyone who has read the book, its subject matter and the author's personal experiences make it difficult to criticize. So before going further, I would like to make clear that my dislike of the book is not rooted in the author's personal memoir or her meditations on how her childhood traumas shaped her. I truly hope that this book was cathartic for her and enabled her to find peace. If it did ...more
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
"The Fact of a body: A Murder and a Memoir".....the title of this book becomes an 'acute awareness' of what this book is about - -the deeper we are pulled into this debut:
This book is about a real murder that happened in the year 1992. A six year old child, Jeremy Guillory, was molested and murdered by Ricky Langley.

This book is also a Memoir. We get a very personal -intimate -' private-as-private-is', up and close 'factual' and 'emotional' account from what author Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fact of the Body: A Murder and a Memoir is one of the books chosen for the nonfiction book club on goodreads this summer. I enjoy reading mysteries, true crime, and memoirs so I found the concept of this book to be intriguing. In a book that is a mixture of true narrative and personal recollections, Fact of the Body is an intricate web of emotions that come to a nexus when investigating a horrible crime from multiple angles.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich had overcome long odds and made it into
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A memoir and a Murder. Two separate lives that disturbingly cross over. Two lives that live with past horrific secrets that have hauntingly shaped who they are.

One a murderer. One a law student. Marzano-Lesnevich is a law intern when her path crosses with Ricky Langley, child molester and murderer, on death row. With her own molested past, she seeks to understand this boy child who did to children what was done to her. Rather than hate, which can be done so understandably easily, she chooses to
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is hard to categorise this book – partly, it is the disturbing story of a murder, but it is much more than that. Part memoir, written almost as a novel, this is a painful, thoughtful account of a crime and how it affected those involved , but also how it changed the life of author Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. The author is the daughter of a lawyer and, as long as she can remember, she recalls being fascinated by the law. At the age of twenty five, she went to New Orleans to fight the death ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Blending the best facets of history and historical fiction writing, this memoir of both the factual and imagined past bring alive the murder of a young boy, Jeremy Guillory, by a confessed pedophile, alongside the author's own sexual abuse by her grandfather. It's not easy reading but it's exceptionally well written. Despite having an opposition to capital punishment that was fundamental to her decision to study law, her introduction to this death penalty case while working as intern led ...more

WARNING: This review contains information that's mentioned in many discussions of the book, but some readers might consider the revelations spoilers. So - If minor spoilers bother you - stop reading now.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

"The Fact of a Body" melds the true crime story of child molester/murderer Ricky Langley with Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich's tale of being sexually abused as a child.

Ricky Langley

In 1992, Louisiana resident Ricky Langley killed his six-year-old neighbor, Jeremy
Liz Barnsley
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Fact of a Body was less a non fiction narrative and more a work of art – I don’t think I have been sucked into a book in the way this one sucked me in for a good long while. Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich writes with such a beautiful, haunting quality that gets over so many layers of emotional depth whilst still keeping it factual and real, that you can one moment be feeling like you are watching events unfold in real time and the next sobbing like a baby at one small sentence that says ...more
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
This was not a 4 star for me but rather 3.75 **

So.. this took me a while to read.

What I really enjoyed reading about was the murder that was committed and the disputable reasons behind WHY it was committed. This book also hugely focuses on paedophilia and I believe this is an important read because it raises awareness. One wonders, who can you truly trust?

There were times when I had to put my kindle down and contemplate what I had just read, because I couldn't wrap my head around it. Other
"[B]ut over time is starts to feel appropriate, somehow, that I can't find the house. The feeling is like chasing a memory that slips from your mind just as soon as you start to grasp it. Sure, it's dangerous to read metaphor into life; sure, it smacks of a desire to read meaning into cold fact, but doesn't all of this?"

This book made me feel so terribly uncomfortable right from the start. And by uncomfortable I don't just mean in terms of the subject content, which, yes, is disturbing and
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I've ever read that cores a murder case which resulted in a death penalty conviction. It's one of the very few which although in the end tone seems to support a strong movement toward making death penalty executions a thing of the past; STILL- it fully reveals the other side of needing and SO wanting that person to be "not alive" for the torture and horror that they initiated, and which STILL echoes throughout numberless lives' "after effects". And especially for ...more
L A i N E Y
If you're one of those lucky people who still have solid faith in this thing called 'family institution', I caution you before picking this one up - the disillusionment may never be undone.
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoirs
The Fact of a Body: begins way before Alexandria starts working at a law firm. Her parents were both lawyers and she has always wanted to be one. She begins a summer job in Louisiana to help defend men accused of murder. She is staunchly against the anti-death penalty and thinks her position is clear. But as she is doing research, the moment she sees Ricky Langley's face on the screen, she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die.

This book is powerful and emotionally raw. I have never
Julie Christine
In a braided narrative that weaves true crime with memoir, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich untangles the notion of proximate cause and the reality of personal perspective, and exposing the law as a mutable animal, born of bias and propelled by coincidence.

Marzano-Lesnevich was a young Harvard law student in 2003, interning for a Louisiana firm that specialized in defending death penalty clients, when she encountered Ricky Langley, convicted of the murder of six-year-old Jeremy Guillory a decade
Book Riot Community
I mention this on the podcast several months ago, but I just want to reiterate how amazing this book is. Marzano-Lesnevich went to Louisiana to help work with prisoners on death row, and instead found herself questioning her opposition to the death penalty when she came across a particularly heinous crime. Her investigation into the case led to reopened memories of her own childhood trauma and forced her to face some painful truths. (This book is fascinating and beautifully written, but please ...more
Krystin Rachel
Book Blog | Bookstagram

I really wanted to like this. I didn’t want to write a negative review for a book that is, in part, detailing the author’s personal experience with molestation.

The heavy subject matter makes a negative review seem tacky, to a degree. And I didn’t want to be that asshole. But, that’s not where this review is coming from. At all.

I applaud the author’s use of writing to work through her trauma and to find an understanding of how trauma shaped her. If this book was a tool for
Purple Country Girl (Sandy)
I received a copy of The Fact of a Body from the publisher, Flatiron Books.

Honestly, The Fact of a Body is not the type of book I usually read and I probably would never have considered it if I hadn’t been sent a copy by the publisher. I don’t like reading about pedophiles or about any type of abuse or violence against children. I’m not really into true crime and I rarely read memoirs, especially those dealing with abuse. The book is a combination of all this and more - part memoir, part true
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I have to say many things...about this, but right now I can’t breathe.
Jessica Woodbury
Writing true crime nonfiction is a delicate task. I don't think most authors in the genre treat it delicately enough. I used to be a public defender, so I don't tend to romanticize crimes or criminals, to me they are regular people, not all that different from anyone else. Victims are just people, too. But in true crime sometimes it feels like it is not about real people and instead it's about characters and stories. I have trouble reading that kind of book because I cannot forget that these are ...more
I'm leaving this unrated because while it was in many ways a beautiful book, it's also the most upsetting book I've ever read.

Obviously, content warnings abound. This book contains child molestation, sexual assault, murder, abuse, among other things.

Because Marzano-Lesnevich contrasts the child molester and murderer with events in her own life, there is an intimacy throughout the story. I've read true crime before, I've seen true crime documentaries, but because this book's structure it felt so
Matthew Quann
I finished The Fact of a Body audiobook late last week, but I've been putting off writing the review for a whole weekend. This book was difficult for many reasons, but largely because of the disturbing topics with which it deals. A trigger warning then: this is a nonfiction novel that deals with sexual assault, murder, and pedophilia in overwhelming detail. This is not to say that it is not well-written, or that it does not provide a challenging examination of abuse; however, it does not deliver ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"No one story is simple. No one story is complete." –Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Wow. This book really put me through the ringer. I wish that I had realized that the whole of this book would be difficult to read. In most true crime books I've read thus far, the gritty part is found at the beginning, and the details in catching the culprit take up the rest of the reading. Not so in this case, which is a true crime work wrapped about a memoir. I am so happy about how this "project" turned out for
Kimberly Dawn
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt this book was well balanced in covering both the author’s childhood sexual abuse as well as the story of the murder of a child by a pedophile, Ricky Langley, who was the victim of his own traumatic childhood. She covers the family lives of all involved, including her own.

Learning of the pedophile Ricky Langley and the 1992 murder of six-year-old Jeremy Guillory triggered Alexandria’s own unresolved issues.
Writing this book enabled her to come to terms somewhat with her childhood trauma.

I honestly don't know how to review this book. I wanted to like it so much, but found the writing somewhat disjointed and clunky. This is an incredibly powerful story, and obviously intensely personal for the author -- it's hard to be critical when you're discussing someone's traumatic experiences; it just seems cruel. Marzano-Lesnevich raises a lot of questions about family ties (both positive and negative) and what we as a society expect from our justice system, reform or revenge. There are no
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot imagine writing a non-fiction/memoir especially when the author has to step out of her comfort zone in order to do so. Not an easy read but I appreciate the amount of research and time that went into this book. The subject covered was depressing and disheartening.
Not only was it a difficult read because of the murder involved but also Alexandria's memoir described a sad and difficult childhood. Both stories do support each other.
I felt the stories to be scattered which made presenting
The murder and the memoir made an odd combination for me. I get why the murder triggered memories for the author, but it wasn't a coherent narrative. I also didn't like how she inserted so much speculation about other people's thoughts and motives. Looks like I'm in the minority of people who thought this book just OK
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book for true crime fans. Alexandria tells the story of how as a law student she went to Louisiana to work on the case of a man accused of murder, and hearing the details of the crime reminded her of a traumatic incident in her own life. As she investigates both her own past and the murderer's story, she is so disturbed by the man's crime that she begins to question her opposition to the death penalty.

I read a fair amount of true crime books, and this one is really well-written.
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Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir, named an Indie Next Pick and one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Buzzfeed, BookRiot, and the Huffington Post as well as a must-read for May by Goodreads,, Entertainment Weekly, and Real Simple. Currently out in the US and UK, it is forthcoming in the Netherlands, Turkey, Korea, and ...more
“In the books I find the thrum of everything unsayable. The characters weep the way I want to, love the way I want to, cry, die, beat their breasts, and bray with life.” 11 likes
“When a lifeline comes, you don’t evaluate whether it’s the right one. You just grab for it, and hold on.” 9 likes
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