A candid memoir from a talented young lawyer who becomes romantically entangled with the convicted drug felon she represents—Cameron Douglas, son of film actor Michael Douglas—and who soon makes the mistake of her life. Or does she?
Criminal That I Am is a defense attorney’s account of the criminal justice system as seen through the prism of a particular case: her own. Jennifer Ridha is enlisted to defend Cameron Douglas in a federal drug trafficking case while he is incarcerated in a maximum-security prison under difficult, even dangerous, conditions. As media scrutiny and the pressures of Cameron’s case mount and as Jennifer becomes increasingly transfixed by her charming but troubled client, he asks her to do the unthinkable: commit a crime. In a decision inexplicable even to herself, guided only by her indignation and infatuation, she agrees. When her transgression is discovered, her criminal case begins and her life as she knows it is over.
A page-turning trip through professional self-destruction, tabloid scandal, and self-reckoning, Criminal That I Am is about the choices one woman makes: how they define her, how she lives with them and, ultimately, how she is transformed by them. Recounted with brutal introspection and self-deprecating humor, this strange and twisted love story contemplates what we make of crime and punishment…and what it makes of us.
“Stinging and insightful . . . Acknowledging the balance between her heart and her head, Ridha amply demonstrates what can happen when the balance is upset.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Filled with self-deprecating humor and tabloid-worthy scandal, Ridha’s memoir illustrates how a rational person does something she knows is wrong but still can’t help herself from doing.”
— Book of the Month (June Selection)
“The unspooling of Ridha’s career and the toll that it takes on her personal life is vivid . . . [her] story serves as a cautionary tale about the blurring of boundaries that happens when the professional becomes personal.”
— The Toronto Star
“An unflinching account . . . Positioned as both insider and outsider, lawyer and criminal, Ridha creates a juicy narrative that serves as a vehicle for reflecting on criminal behavior and the human inclination to transgress.”
— Publisher’s Weekly
“Ridha’s remorse and guilty feelings are palpable. . . A cautionary (albeit sometimes lighthearted) tale.”
“Jennifer Ridha’s story rivets, jars, compels, and challenges. Her search for justice leads her to a merciful crime of the most human variety within a morally bankrupt criminal system. Although her journey is a tough one, Criminal That I Am contains many moments enlivened by Ridha’s wry wit and powerful sense of irony. Her spirit, fortitude, and candor will stay with you long after the last page is turned.”
— Margaux Fragoso, N.Y. Times bestselling author of Tiger, Tiger
“In her unique and humorous voice, Jennifer Ridha has given us an utterly fascinating view into the events that so effortlessly unraveled her life and turned her into the most unlikely of criminal co-conspirators. Criminal That I Am is unexpected in all of the best ways, and although hers is a compelling cautionary tale, I was left hoping Ridha would commit another crime, just so I could read about it again. I loved this book.”
— Matthew Logelin, N.Y. Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy