While The City Slept by Eli Sanders -Book Club Reading Guide

While the City Slept

by Eli Sanders

PBR Book Review:

(by- Linda ) A true crime story that occurred in July 2009 in a suburb of Seattle. Eli Sanders won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting this murder and exposing a flawed mental health system in Washington State. It's not hard to make the leap that this is a colossal problem in our country that has been ignored and underfunded with dire consequences.

The book tells of a violent rape and assault on two women. One woman did not survive. The crime was committed by Isiah Kalebu, a mentally ill person who slipped through the system despite attempts by his family to get help for him. The book is well written and researched, and although not a riveting read, it's still a book that's hard to put down. It stirs up a lot of anger about a system that clearly does not work.

Sanders gives us the backstory of the two victims and the murderer. It's sad knowing that Jennifer Hopper and Teresa Butz were real people who loved each other, and had friends, family, and vibrant lives before the attack. This may have been prevented if Isaiah's problems had been addressed. This is a good book for anyone who enjoys true crime stories; or is interested in the failing mental health or criminal justice systems.

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*Author Website: http://www.elisanders.net

*Praise for This Book (From the Publisher)

One of Library Journal's 10 Best Books of the Year
One of Mother Jones's 20 Notable Books of the Year
One of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Books of the Year

"Expertly crafted ... [Sanders'] evenhanded reporting and emotional commitment to the story make for gripping reading." -The Washington Post

"A heartbreaking-and compelling-story from every angle ... Americans have long been fascinated by true-crime stories, from Truman Capote's 1966 masterpiece, In Cold Blood, through this year's binge-worthy TV series Making a Murderer. The bad guy is always mesmerizing. What makes a person go to that dark side? Sanders works hard to provide the answers... . [He] does a terrific job of telling the life stories of all three principal characters." -The Philadelphia Inquirer

"[A] disturbing, sometimes-horrifying story of true crime and justice only partially served." -The Huffington Post, "11 Books That Grab You from Page One"

"Inspiring ... From a harrowing crime, it draws powerful lessons for our mental health and criminal justice systems that can't be ignored." -Sister Helen Prejean, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Man Walking

"An arresting narrative ... Certainly a story worth telling with lessons well worth learning... . It's heartbreaking all the way around." -The Seattle Times

"Written with great sensitivity and even greater beauty." -Jeff Hobbs, New York Times bestselling author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

"Gripping ... Moving and unsettling ... Told with incredible sensitivity." -Minneapolis Star Tribune

Book Summary

On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love-Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, who spent many years trying to find themselves and who eventually found each other-and a young man on a dangerous psychological descent: Isaiah Kalebu, age twenty-three, the son of a distant, authoritarian father and a mother with a family history of mental illness. All three paths forever altered by a violent crime, all three stories a wake-up call to the system that failed to see the signs.

In this riveting, probing, compassionate account of a murder in Seattle, Eli Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of the crime, offers a deeply reported portrait in microcosm of the state of mental health care in this country-as well as an inspiring story of love and forgiveness. Culminating in Kalebu's dangerous slide toward violence-observed by family members, police, mental health workers, lawyers, and judges, but stopped by no one-While the City Slept is the story of a crime of opportunity and of the string of missed opportunities that made it possible. It shows what can happen when a disturbed member of society repeatedly falls through the cracks, and in the tradition of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, is an indelible, human-level story, brilliantly told, with the potential to inspire social change.

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