MN Reads: “Not the Camilla We Knew” by Rachael Hanel
Many people know the name Patty Hearst. In 1974, Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) and subsequently assimilated to their cause. The events culminated in a firefight with law enforcement leaving many dead.
But that’s just one way to tell the story. Facts are useful in placing together a narrative, but for Rachael Hanel, author of Not the Camilla We Knew, the story lies in the journey and motivations of an outcast role player. "I really became fascinated with [Camilla Hall] the first time I saw her picture," says Hanel of the Minnesota-raised subject. In late 1973, Hall joined up with the SLA. "She was just completely the least likely person to join a group like this."
The book explores the small changes in Camilla's life that ended up influencing her decision to participate in a kidnapping that would ultimately lead to her death. Although the media synthesized Hall into a simple one-dimensional character, Hanel fleshes out the deeper aspects of Hall through interviews and writings. Early in the book, Hanel writes about Camilla's depth of character and how that might apply to the reader; "It forces us to confront a part of ourselves that doesn't always make the right choices."
The book can be purchased anywhere including locally at Zenith Bookstore or online at bookshop.org
Minnesota Reads is produced at The North 103.3 with funding provided in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.