Brenna's Reviews > Mommy's Little Girl

Mommy's Little Girl by Diane Fanning
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's review
Dec 28, 2009

really liked it

“A carnival of bright lights, loud voices, and the public's ceaseless appetite for entertainment” is how author Diane Fanning encapsulates the ongoing Caylee Anthony murder case.

And she has written a book about it, published some eight months before the earliest possible trial date for accused murderer Casey Anthony, the two-year-old child's mother. Mommy's Little Girl is one of the numerous carnie barkers to take aim at the infamous case out of Florida.

Summer of 2008, the United States was subjected to the tale of a young mother who – after waiting some thirty-one days before reporting her two-year-old daughter missing to police authorities – announced that her loyal babysitter had stolen her child away from her. For reasons never made clear, Casey Anthony alleged to have “gone through other sources to try to find her” instead. Without explicitly stating the reason behind having done so, her family was led to believe that perhaps Caylee's life would be endangered should Casey have chosen to gone the more traditional route of informing law enforcement of the missing child.

Shortly afterward, the influx of information began: 911 tapes were released to the public, as were the audio and transcripts of Casey's conversations with her family from jail (presumed, apparently, to be private up until their release), and sources began to speculate as to Caylee's whereabouts, whether alive or not. Casey's mother stepped up to the media, embracing them at first in an attempt to locate her missing granddaughter, and then reviling them with all of her passions when the media promptly turned on not only the accused Casey, but the grandparents of the missing child as well. Within months almost everyone else involved, from celebrity bounty hunter Leonard Padilla to Casey's own attorney Jose Baez, became involved in various bizarre accusations and public spectacles. News programs dedicated entire programs to the case, national magazines giving over full cover stories to it.

And then, the tragedy of young Caylee's apparent murder became clear upon the discovery of her skeletal remains.

The title Mommy's Little Girl appears to apply to both Caylee and to mom Casey herself, as Fanning depicts Casey as a spoiled sociopathic child murderer, protected by her own mother. Of course, Fanning brings nothing new or unknown to the story already blasted out by mass media, but at least she brings it all together in a concise little package, presented as a form of “entertainment” to sate the public's voracious appetite therefor. Though numerous interviews with involved individuals were given, the author makes it clear that nobody from Casey's immediate family – including Casey herself, obviously – were involved in this gathering of information.

Perhaps making the book somewhat unusual from others of its genre, the publication was released long before any legal resolution was ever established. Casey herself sits in jail, awaiting final word on when her trial will take place, while bookstores and grocery aisles across the nation display this case history from their shelves. As if to make up for the lack of resolution, Fanning herself puts her Edgar Award Finalist writing skills to work in formulating a trite Afterword, shaming her readers for taking such an interest in the case even as she panders to those needs to understand the case in order to “prevent it from happening again to another child.” Fanning delves into a quickie mental health review of Casey Anthony, knocking down theories of suspected narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, et al. with hardly a sentence to dismiss each one. Instead, she prefers the decidedly non-medical term “monster” to describe the accused.

An “accused” who has yet to face a jury of her peers, but who has seemingly already been deemed guilty by Fanning and her ilk based on revelations – not actual, hard-based evidence which would establish the guilt of Caylee's mother beyond the shadow of a doubt, as is required by the American legal system prior to establishing a person's guilt. The media has already done her job for her, so that she can establish so much as a quasi-resolution of sorts. In the publishing world, timing means an awful lot, legal system be damned.

Sadly, like many other true crime books, Fanning has to rely on speculation to recreate a potential time line of events. And she does not hesitate to do so. Prefaced by a blasé statement that the events to follow are “based on” numerous external sources and that time frames are “estimates,” Fanning disregards the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as a mere triviality and fictionalized her version of “what might have happened.” (Emphasis by the author.)

Despite its flaws, the book does not drag nor does it rely on irrelevent pieces of information regarding the topography of Orlando, Florida, for example, or the ham-fisted verbiage of a hack writer. Diane Fanning proves herself quite adept at maintaining a reader's rapt attention, and being the reader along, captivated and intrigued.

However, the book remains decicively one-sided and biased, as one might expect. Coupled with slipshod copy editing and a basis on so-called “evidence” which has not yet been made known to the public as such, Mommy's Little Girl cannot present the definitive version of events surrounding the case – only the details which led to its current state. Sources of information for private e-mail correspondence has not been made known, nor has the anecdotal biographical information regarding Casey and her parents.

Caveat lector.
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Kolleen true, but none of us could resist reading it either. so sad.

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