Book Festival brings bestsellers
State prosecuter Jeff Ashton among featured authors
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 2, 2012 09:04
Did you attend the festival?
Though the stereotypical bookworm possesses the skill of silence, UCF’s third annual Book Festival on Saturday was filled with loud laughter and controversial conversation between authors and their readers.
Jeff Ashton, lead prosecutor for the Casey Anthony trial and author of Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony, spoke about the murder trial that captivated America in the summer of 2011.
Ashton said his intent in writing the book was to give people who felt emotionally wronged a sense of closure and understanding of the not-guilty verdict.
“There’s a lot more to this story that I’d like to tell people,” Ashton said. “After the trial was over there was so much anger in the community over this case. People had really taken Caylee as a member of their family, so I wanted to give them as much information as I could so they could have closure.”
Ashton said his other motive for writing the book was to prevent people from losing faith in the justice system, even though he said it can sometimes be flawed; this was the idea behind book’s title Imperfect Justice. Ashton said the title reflects the idea that even though the U.S. justice system is one of the best, it is imperfect because it involves human beings.
“I think it’s important to let people know that you should still believe in this system, but with the knowledge that it’s not always going to go the way you think it should,” Ashton said.
Though Ashton talked about the decision of seeking the death penalty and his unfavorable attitude toward Jose Baez, the audience, despite the unpopular topic of his book, welcomed his friendly and humorous demeanor. Ashton even cracked a joke when the audience was asked to silence their cellphones.
“If you have beeper, go back to the ‘80s,” Ashton said.
Sean Ellingham, a senior political science major, asked Ashton what he felt the most emotional part of the trial was. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the reading of the verdict.
“The closing argument is always the most emotional part because that is where you really throw your heart and soul into what you’re saying,” Ashton said.
Ellingham said that reading the book gave him a new insight on the trial.
“It was interesting to read about other stuff that wasn’t in the media about the case and seeing his perspective on it and what he thought about the end result,” Ellingham said.
Also present at the festival was author James McBride, who wrote the New York Times Best Seller The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother. The book, which has sold more then 1.5 million copies, is an autobiography that focuses on McBride’s mother, a white, Jewish woman from Poland who raised 12 black children in New York City and sent each of them to college.
In between talking about his experiences in college and working as a reporter for The Boston Globe, People and The Washington Post, McBride gave advice to students who are struggling with fitting into society and finding themselves.
“By the fact that you are already here at this great school you have already demonstrated that you know how to be successful. So what I’m asking you to do while you’re here is to learn how to fail,” McBride said. “The Color of Water is one of my few successes; most of what I do fails. And the difference between me and the next person is that I forget my failures instantly. And I ask you to that when you’re here at school. Give yourself the right to fail.”