Read While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness by Eli Sanders Rene Ruiz Online


“Binged Making a Murderer? Try . . . [this] riveting portrait of a tragic, preventable crime.” —Entertainment WeeklyA Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter’s gripping account of one young man’s path to murder—and a wake-up call for mental health care in America  On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love—Teresa Butz“Binged Making a Murderer? Try . . . [this] riveting portrait of a tragic, preventable crime.” —Entertainment WeeklyA Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter’s gripping account of one young man’s path to murder—and a wake-up call for mental health care in America  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.From the Hardcover edition....

Title : While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness
Author :
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ISBN : 9780147524560
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 10 Pages
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While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-05-13 12:34

    ****Eli Sanders won the Pulitzer Prize for his compassionate reporting about this crime.****”They had feared him, and it was fear of a certain kind. Not the primal, salable fear of violence, not fright of the unexpected arriving with sudden brutality from an unknowable beyond. Theirs was fear of a known man and an outcome not yet known but likely to be grim. Fear of a person who, regrettably, had lived and delivered pain already, a man intelligent enough to impress yet with seemingly no handle on when his disjointed thoughts, speech, and actions might be headed. Or, if he did have some premonition, no firm brake, internal and external.”Sometimes crime is very easy to understand. Someone gets mad and kills their spouse, someone desperately needs money and robs a convenience store, or someone embezzles their company. We can understand the frustrations that motivate such crimes, but what we have a harder time understanding is randomness. A crime that doesn’t have a neat bow tying together the motivation and the deed. I’ve puzzled over many acts of violence, trying to bring the threads together that culminated in such a seemingly irrational result. We want to understand because with comprehension we feel safer, in control. We can even convince ourselves that this violence has nothing to do with us because we will never find ourselves in a position to allow someone to hurt that. Reading about or hearing about violence, for most of us, is just a blip in our day, a blink of the eye, a shake of the head, and maybe a brief moment of reflection. We then watch a news story about a puppy saved from drowning. A crime happened in this book, and if there had never been a crime, there would have never been a book, but this book is about more than a crime. It is about the failure of our society to understand that the crime is happening long before the final act of violence. I was pleased to see that the publisher has listed this book as a Social Science book instead of a True Crime book, though when I was a bookseller I would probably put the book in both sections. True Crime readers are ravenous for new material, and this is a book I would have wanted them to read. This is a book that goes beyond genre. Comparisons have been made to In Cold Blood because of the lyricism of the writing, and also because Sanders pushes beyond just the facts to discover a greater truth than just innocence or guilt. We are very good at putting people in prison, but almost incompetent in our ability to treat the mental illness that contributed to their acts against society. Isaiah Kalebu finally did something that forced all of us to pay attention to him, but we had numerous chances to help him before things in his head reached critical mass. ”It was now a few weeks after his twenty-third birthday. In the span of four months, he had run a route that is typical in a system that routinely fails people like him, a route that led from his mother’s care to the police, from the police to the emergency room at Harborview, from the Harborview emergency room back to his mother’s care, from his mother’s care back to the police, and finally, from the police to jail.””What happened to him? How does somebody become this guy?”Isaiah’s father was a strict and distant person. It is hard to say which hurt Isaiah the most: the occasional spats of hard discipline or the fact that his father had very little interest in him. None of us like to be ignored. We all need nurturing, and it is even better when we get positive attention from more than one person. Having layers of people who care about us give us multiple chances to be sustained by some well meaning advice or an act of kindness. America may put too much emphasis on independence. One of my aunts told her son to pack his bags and be out of the house as soon as he turned 18. She did relent and let him finish high school. In Europe, it isn’t unusual to have several generations living in a house, all contributing to the collective wisdom of the household, but probably also, at times, contributing to the discord as well. People have to learn to get along. Many hands shape each family member. A person growing up in that type of household has many examples to show him the way to live his life. On his mother’s side, Isaiah is the fourth generation of a family tree filled with cases of mental illness, some treated, some not, some treated well, some treated not well at all. She does what she can for Isaiah as she fights her own demons and tries to hold herself together to stay out of the mental health care system. Too many of us see mental illness as a weakness, something conquerable with will power. It has taken me years to understand how incredibly naive that thinking is. If I had any doubts about the need for continued education about mental illness and the need to change our collective thinking about mental illness, Sanders eliminated any uncertainty with the way he systematically shows how we continue to fail people with mental illness. We criminalize when we need to treat. ”What Isaiah still didn’t have was a relationship with someone who had time to hear his whole story, someone who could sit alongside the young man, talk with him, look with him into his experiences, its beginnings, its possibilities. Instead, he continued to be seen in pieces. That is, whatever piece of him seemed most pressing in whatever particular authorities had to deal with him at a given moment.”If we are judged by one of our acts and one of our acts alone, without someone caring enough to bring the full mosaic of our life together, the person we are seen to be becomes a very simplified distortion. We become angry that people or the system are looking at us with blinders on and can’t possibly see who we are when the sum of our parts are actually brought together. Isaiah was angry. Isaiah finally did something that got our full attention. He raped two women and killed one of them. ”Indifferent silence. Unanswered cries. A murderer and rapist running away through the night. Cruelty unchecked.”We had chances to control this outcome. Isaiah was telling us through one action after another that he was building up like an overwound clock to something more tragic. Someone with the right qualifications could have looked at his mother’s past and his relationship with his father and seen a recipe for problems. Couple that knowledge with his actions, and one could unequivocally determine that the young man needed help. We failed him. We failed his victims. Sanders makes a great case for why the justice system needs to be updated and streamlined so that we see the accused, the sum of the whole, as well as the crime. He makes an even better case for why we all need to understand mental illness. Few of us are not touched by it either directly or indirectly. We need to quit seeing mental illness as embarrassing and as a battle that everyone must fight alone. I was impressed by the compassion that Sanders brought to the victims Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, but also to Isaiah Kalebu. We find out who they were/are beyond the ring of police tape when all three of their lives intersected and changed forever. If we think of this book as a True Crime novel, I can without hesitation say that it is the best I’ve read since In Cold Blood. If we consider this a book about social issues, I can say it is the best book of that genre I’ve ever read, but any book that expands my thinking and moves the needle on how I see an issue is certainly more than a book trapped in any one genre. Isn’t that one of the definitions of literature? If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at: out my In Cold Blood review

  • Joseph
    2019-05-14 16:25

    While the City Slept: Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent into Violence by Eli Sanders is the account of violence and murder in a Seattle community. Eli Sanders is the associate editor of Seattle's weekly newspaper The Stranger. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2012 for his reporting on the murder of Teresa Butz. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Seattle Times, The American Prospect, and Salon, among other publications.I usually don’t read true crime books and I am not a fan of narrative nonfiction. This book, however, is a game changer. The story is told well and with enough detail that the idea to check sources passed by me. Sanders takes an almost personal role in the story telling. It was his news story back in 2012 and, much like Jon Krakauer’s reporting of a death in Alaska for Outside Magazine, the story has been extended with research down several avenues. Teresa Butz, tomgirl, traveler, and searching for her role in life is examined from early life as one of eleven children in a Catholic family. Jennifer Hopper, a talented singer, who could not find the proper role in music New York. The two meet in Seattle and become a couple and set a date for a commitment ceremony. The book opens with the aftermath of rape and violent assault that left Teresa Butz dead and Jennifer Hopper finding refuge with a neighbor. The man responsible, Isaiah Kalebu, also has a story.His story is told to present the how a terrible crime could happen and sadly on how it could have been prevented. It is not told for the reader to take pity on the killer. It is told to show how things work in practice rather than in reality. There are more than gaps in the system. There are gaping holes. From a bridge that has been damaged by earthquakes, caseloads for judges, and mental health budgets. Sanders points out that there are more people in prison mental health facilities than there are outside of prison. It has much more to do with budgets than the number of people requiring care. The system is not intentionally callous as it does have people who care, but so many are overworked and overscheduled to do much good. While the City Slept, gives a very worthwhile account of the lives of Butz and Hopper and although their same-sex relationship is what brought them together, Sanders does not make that point a central theme or a rallying point. They are treated no different than a heterosexual couple which is nice to see the acceptance of relationships as norms rather than the exception. Sanders also does an excellent job of drawing the road map that brings the three people on a collision course. It is an eye-opening book on the system we all live in. Surprising too the is the role of the police in the story. The investigation of the crime takes little time and effort for the police. Isaiah Kalebu is arrested less than a week after the crime. An intensely interesting read that is difficult to put down.

  • Rebbie
    2019-05-05 10:32

    Eli Sanders won a Pulitzer for his coverage of this horrific crime. And I must say, he truly deserves it. Sanders carefully wove the facts of this crime together over years of research, fusing it with great respect not just for the victims and their families, but for the perpetrator and his family as well. I was deeply moved by the compassion that Sanders showed for everyone, no matter how much responsibility they held in this awful tragedy. If only everyone felt the way he does, the world would be a better place to live.I'm positive that it was no easy feat to write this book with such grace and dignity, especially since he took it upon himself to pick up the torch for the obscene lack of care that mentally ill persons receive in the US, and fight for their rights to receive proper treatment. Even though his fight only takes place within the volumes of his work, it nevertheless opens the gate to a long overdue conversation: that there is a battle being waged over the care and treatment of the mentally ill, and no one is winning. Just like other uncomfortable topics, we have face it head on so we can overcome these issues.It's unacceptable that these two women were victimized so brutally when it could've been prevented if society were better equipped to handle someone like Isaiah Kalebu. It's also frightening to consider how many other faceless victims are out there due to the way we've swept mental illness under the rug.

  • Dierdra McGill
    2019-04-23 17:19

    I was contacted to do a review on this book in exchange for a free copy. This review is my own, and the five stars I have given this book are my own.While the City Slept, is another book that tries to get readers aware of the massive problem that the United States has concerning the mentally ill. I read a lot of these books, and know firsthand what a problem this is, so I was very excited to get a chance to read this book.In 2004 my uncle was released from prison, he had spent 17 years in prison at this point. He was on medication for schizophrenia, and was taking his medication. Upon his release however, he was not given any of his medication, nor was he directed to a place where he could get more. Four months after his release, just before Christmas, he robbed a local convenience store and ended up shooting, and killing a woman. This quote is from an article written for the local newspaper. The mother said: "When they released him, it was like 2 a.m. and they said the drug place was closed. They would mail him his prescription. He never got his medicines. He told me and others 'I really need my medicine to hold me together.' He said what they ended up giving him was doing nothing to help him. All his family knows how bad he needed to have his medicines in order to maintain some calm inside his self."While the City Slept, is a story of a man who clearly needed help and others saw this. He was left untreated although his family did everything that possibly could do to help him. The young man, Isiah Kalebu, then went on to rape and kill two women. Possibly also killing his aunt in a fire. I believe that more books such as this, describing mental illness and what is not done about it, should be written. If you are looking for a book to read after you read this, I recommend, Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness by Pete Earley. Written also by a reporter, this is a book about his son and the prison system that is not equipped to help the mentally ill. I am also a big fan of True Crime genre, the biggest problem that I have with those books are the author gets to technical throughout, and it gets boring, or the author interjects to many of her, or his own opinions into the book. Thankfully this did not happen in, While the City Slept. The book is written in what I would say a paper form. An Essay of sorts. I really enjoyed this writing style, it allowed me to really feel more for Jennifer and Teresa, and what happened to them. There are facts of course, but they are presented with interviews of the families, and Jennifer. The author did an amazing job at going through the back story of everyone involved. The problem with most true crime books, and I feel that it is unavoidable is that there are a lot of questions left unanswered. There are just so many questions that we will ever have an answer to, such as why this happened, or could it have really been avoided. While the City Slept is highly recommended, and I hope that it will bring light into the problems that we have treating our mentally ill.

  • Michele
    2019-05-19 12:43

    Given the opportunity most Washingtonians - myself included - are eager to extol the virtues of our state. We rank exceptionally high in the top places to live in this country, despite the higher costs of living in urban areas, largely because residents pay a lot of taxes which are by and large sent back into the community. We fund our libraries here. We welcome refugees. We embrace equality. We even legalized marijuana because we didn't see the benefit of law enforcement using valuable resources for an offense that didn't measure up to the punishment.Don't get too proud, though, fellow Washingtonians. In his new book While the City Slept author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eli Sanders reveals just how antiquated our state (and indeed, most other states in the Union) is when it comes to mental health care. Framed around the brutal rape/murder of a woman just south of Seattle in 2009, Sanders has penned a damning expose of how badly the system has failed. Owing largely to severe under-funding, the story of how rapist and murderer Isaiah Kalebu fell through the cracks - crevasses is a more accurate description- is the wake-up call we, as a society, need to read. From infancy through adulthood, Kalebu's life was one of missed opportunity....despite numerous warning signs, his illness was allowed to progress unchecked until tragedy struck. In a riveting narrative Sanders not only illuminates societal deficiencies (that word seems so inadequate in comparison to the giant problem), but deftly shows us how we got here. And it's heartbreaking. Don't mistake Sander's story as sympathetic to the perpetrator. Rather, he shows us how continuing to ignore America's mental health problems only creates more victims. A young woman might have lived were it not for our failure to recognize and intervene in mental health crises. This book is a must-read, not only for Washington State residents but across the country where other states are faring no better. We need to get our collective act together. Read the book.

  • KatieMc
    2019-05-02 18:22

    I guess this shows that distinction in journalism doesn't necessarily translate to books. The theme centered around the flaws in how we as a society care of the mentally ill, and that is a worthy topic to explore. It was a sad story with many lives irreparably broken in the wake of Isaiah Kalebu's illness. Still the author's metaphorical analogy to the care for Duwamish River was awkward and there wasn't the call to action that I had expected.

  • Peter Andrus
    2019-05-10 18:35

    Let me preface this review by saying that i am an AVID non-fiction fan. I am drawn to it so much I have a hard time reading fiction. This book was SOOOOO boring. I put it down with about 90% of it read because I couldn't stand one more minute of the mundanity. I know many will counter with "Well, it did win a Pulitzer!" So what? It's BORING. I listened to the audiobook. I can't imagine making it as far as i did if I had read it. Maybe not even halfway. The writing is thorough and extremely well researched. The attention to detail is amazing. However, I think that might be the book's biggest flaw. The case itself just isn't that interesting. This is the best, most interesting example you could find of a crazy guy slipping through the cracks of the legal system? As far as i can remember not one bit of evidence is presented or evaluated, and the author seems to assume that the case itself, and every last miniscule detail, will fascinate the reader enough on its own. It doesn't, at least not for me. The author spends multiple chapters explaining everything, and i mean EVERYTHING, about the victims. I assume this is to inspire empathy for them. However, I have empathy already just because they are victims and they were attacked in such a horrible fashion. I don't need like 50 pages of their lives to be explained down to their favorite song at 8 years old. I get it. Move on. The explanation of the perpetrator and his descent into madness is interesting for awhile, but the author often glosses right over hints at the coming madness with no analysis or insight. It's very frustrating and happens a lot. Again i will say it was tediously boring. The book felt like a chore to read. I told myself I would finish because it was an audiobook and all, but I just couldn't. I have to maintain some semblance of control.I will say that this issue cropped up almost immediately. Int

  • Caryn
    2019-05-11 16:20

    This book combined both true crime and the plea to adjust our justice system to keep crimes like this from happening. Parts reminded me of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson in the sense that more must be done and crimes and violence can be prevented. This was a heartbreaking story that focused on so much more than the violent act of its center. It covers city planning, family, coming of age, mental illness, our court system, and more. Definitely a recommended piece of journalism if you're interested in any of the above.

  • Ariel
    2019-04-25 13:28

    This book covers such an important issue, mental health being a cause of crime, but it was so tedious to get through. The book recounts the sexual assault of Jennifer Hopper and Theresa Butz with Theresa succumbing to her wounds. The ladies were sleeping when Isiah Kalebu broke into their home and attacked them. It was a very tragic crime made even more so by the fact that Isiah was so clearly mentally ill and had been for some time.To understand how this could happen you have know a bit about the history of mental illness in this country, a topic not really covered in this book. In the 1950's people were housed in institutions without a clear diagnosis. Women were particularity vulnerable to being locked away by men who were threatened by their growing assertiveness as they fought for equal rights. John F. Kennedy's own sister was lobotomized because she was supposedly sexually promiscuous. As a result when Kennedy became President he attempted to reform the health care in America by shutting the big institutions down. Now we have swung so far in the other direction that mentally ill people cannot be forced to take medication unless they are a danger to themselves or other people. This sadly can result in tragedy as was the case here.Everyone who knew Isiah knew he needed mental help but he was unwilling to take the medication to stabilize and his family did not have the means to force him. Being poor, African American, and frequently homeless did not help matters. It all adds up to what should be a fascinating study of the mental health system in this country. In my opinion however it got bogged down in an unnecessary details while more important aspects that should have been examined were ignored. One of US: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacer in Norway is an example of how examining this issue can be done in the right way. Anders Breivik was a mentally ill man who committed one of the worst crimes in the history of Norway. Many parallels can be made to Ander's upbringing and Isiah's and if you are interested in this topic it is a book that should not be missed.While reading this book I kept thinking about Ann Rule and how good she was at covering the crimes in the Pacific Northwest. She had a talent for really putting the reader in the place and time as well as painting an intimate portrait of the people involved. When you read her books, especially when she was on top of her game, you really got a feel for the people involved in the crimes and her approach to crime reporting is one that I miss, especially while reading this book.My final thoughts about this book involve what the author chose to leave out. For instance while reading the book I wondered how Isiah got in the house. A quick googling of the case revealed that Theresa refused to have air conditioning and so always kept the window open when it was hot out. Why did the author leave this out? I am not insinuating that it was right for Isiah to enter the house and do what he did but by leaving the house open it made Jennifer and Theresa vulnerable to attack and was extremely risky. I don't live in the Pacific Northwest but I don't know anyone on the east coast who leaves their house open when they are sleeping or otherwise vulnerable. I just wonder why the author left that out and what else did the author pick and choose to report. Like what happened to Isiah's dog? Long after his family deserted him and left him to the streets (with good reason), the dog was the only one who stayed with him. Wherever he was he had the dog with him. I know the dog's fate is minor compared to what happened to Theresa but I just want to know what happened to the one creature who didn't desert Isiah through his madness.The most compelling part of the book and the one I take with me is Jennifer's compassion. Her ability to wish Isiah peace after what he took from her is the true grace. If you believe in justice reform than you know we are all worth more than the worst thing we have ever done. Isiah needed help before he got to prison and now that he is there it is even less likely that he will get it. Jennifer could see Isiah as a person, a brother, a son, someone sick in need of help. That is how we all need to see the mentally ill so that we can reform the mental health and justice system so that people are free and able to get the proper treatment before they harm themselves or someone else.

  • Jen
    2019-05-11 18:42

    I suppose it's important to start this review by saying, I live in Seattle, not very far from where the South Park attacks happened, and work in criminal justice in the city, so I'm well aware of what goes on in this City and County crime-wise. And I'll say that Seattle, for a city of it's size, is incredibly safe; we do not have much violent or person crime here, and while we worry, we still act as if this is a small town where people are nice. That all being said, I also remember clearly this week in July of 2009 - it was hot, very hot for Seattle. That's something else about Seattle, it doesn't get hot here, and when it does, we all melt. Everyone's windows were open that week; 6 years after these attacks, I NEVER leave my windows open any more regardless of how hot it is. Another thing that I think is important to understand with this book, is that Sanders is a writer for The Stranger, which is Seattle's alternative newspaper. It's the only competition the stodgy old Seattle Times has left, and I think it's fair to say that The Stranger is edgy and out there. They actively pester the status quo, and the Seattle Times and they're usually right, but they have a reputation as 'an alt weekly'. But, they've done the absolute best reporting on some of the major issues in Seattle over the past decade; and especially since the Seattle PI closed shop after the economic collapse of 2008. So, that's where Sanders comes from; making the fabulous reporting he did of these crimes and this book even more great. And, cheers to the Stranger for giving their reporters the space and support to do things like write great books and do really good, deep reporting. On to the book. Well written, and researched and reported. This is a work of non-fiction that reads like a magazine article, which is a way of writing that always feels good to me to read. And Sanders does a great job of taking a local crime, and a local justice system and drawing broad brush strokes and nationwide conclusions from it, which makes this a more important work. I also very much appreciated that Sanders doesn't go into a lot of detail about the brutality of the attacks. It's not needed. The important points in this book are how the system works, or not, in practice. How the system(s) failed Kalebu, the offender in this case, and how the criminal justice system does not work in tandem either with it's own partners, and particularly how poorly the criminal justice system works with the mental health system; this is and important and very timely discussion.Finally, I think the bright lining of this whole books is Jennifer Hopper, the survivor of these attacks. Her grace and grit and ability to survive and move forward under ungodly circumstances is amazing and something that I will hold in mind. I don's sense that she's forgiven Kalebu, but she's clearly healing and putting things in their proper place; she's managed to move on for herself and remove Kalebu and his actions from controlling her destiny; this is a lesson for all of us; crime survivors or not. Great research and writing, and a very timely account of the the social safety net, especially in Washington, but with lessons for the country. I did think that the cost benefit analysis discussion near the conclusion was a little lacking, but there is a lot of scholarship on that. The using of this brutal crime to illuminate some of the system-wide problems we're facing right now was a great use of reporting.

  • BookOfCinz
    2019-04-22 18:31

    3.5 I am not one to read non-fiction on crime but I decided to give this one a go because I had just finished binge watching “Making of a Murderer”. I think this book should have been made into a TV series instead of a book. There were so many moving parts, so many angles to cover that a lot of these issues that should have been looked at more in-depth was done on a surface level. Yes, the book was well written, it is clear Sanders did a massive amount of research on this piece but sometimes I felt too much irrelevant information was presented. For example, Sanders spoke a lot about the jury selection; he gave detailed reasons why some persons weren’t selected and why others were. I felt this was a little unnecessary because it added nothing to the story and was overall not interesting. I want to hear about the trial itself, not about a cyclist that was selected and had to leave because he is the leader of his cycle team. With that said, this was a difficult book to read, I got nauseated reading Jennifer’s testimony. It was so overwhelming at times reading Isaiah’s decent into mental illness. All of these were a lot to take in. I also felt- and I feel a little bad saying this- but I felt like enough was not done to “humanize” Jennifer and Teresa, they were presented in such a clinical way. It wasn’t until Jennifer took the stand at the trial that my heart genuinely went out to her and Teresa. I am interested to see how other people review this book because I feel so many ways about it.

  • Liz
    2019-05-07 15:31

    This book appealed to me because I enjoy both true crime and legal dramas, but they can be shoddily written and sensationalistic; this promised to be much better-written than the average true-crime fare, and it largely was. My problems with the book were threefold: (1) the background information about the characters, particularly the victims, was overlong and needless; (2) the criticisms of the legal / mental health system seem half-baked; and (3) most infuriatingly, Sanders was so coy about the details of the crime that it came close to ruining the book for me.First, Sanders describes the rudimentary outlines of the crime. This introduction is dramatic, but misleading-- as I'll explain in a minute. Then he abruptly veers off into a banal exploration of the background of two fairly normal, nice-seeming women. I found it hard to stay interested in these sections, feeling only mildly annoyed when the author placed discomfiting emphasis on lifelong hints of lesbianism, as though forcing a consistent narrative of sexuality even where it doesn't seem to fit or be necessary (e.g. when the women are small children). There's a strange "but was she a lesbian now? How about now? When did people know?" aspect to these sections that I didn't understand, especially because at this point it wasn't at all clear to me that the women's sexuality figured in the attack. When the author moves on to Kalebu, the murderer, the narrative is riddled with irrelevant-seeming facts and overbroad statements of how The System Failed-- which leads me to my second problem. Sanders intimates that Kalebu's mental health problems stemmed from childhood trauma, which fell flat. All the family members observed a major personality change occur abruptly when Kalebu was about 20 years old, when suddenly he started suffering delusions, violent mood swings, and auditory hallucinations. Sanders's conflation of mild depression and nonviolent criminal behavior (shoplifting CDs and smoking marijuana as a teenager) with his later "psychotic break" makes zero sense. If those things were predictive of future murderers, our country would've gone full Lord of the Flies ages ago. So it's just not that convincing that anyone should've-- or even could've-- known about the extent of Kalebu's later mental health problems when he was younger, nor does Sanders really show any of the judges or doctors doing anything wrong in handling Kalebu once he started to exhibit seriously troubling behavior. He criticizes the way the system handles mentally ill people, but he doesn't offer much in the way of concrete alternatives. That probably wasn't his focus, so I tried to let it slide.But then we get to the final section-- the trial. The part I'd been looking forward to the most. And suddenly, completely blindsiding me on page 249 (literally 80% into book), I find out that these women were raped and tortured, and that Kalebu said bizarre things about homosexuality. This is enormously important, but it's dropped in the middle of a paragraph as though we were already supposed to know or guess that this had happened. This is how Sanders introduces it for the first time: "Everyone in the courtroom laughed a small laugh, a laugh of nervous relief, because here was a woman testifying about her own rape, and the rape and murder of her partner, and yet she was smiling at the current line of questioning..."Reading the book at a cafe, I literally said, "Wait-- what?!" aloud. I reread the sentence several times. Then I went back and reread the whole first chapter, and I ran searches through Amazon's "look inside" feature, and sure enough page 249 was really and truly the first time that Sanders had seen fit to mention any of this. I almost tossed the book out. It's absolutely absurd to be coy about such significant facts and then reveal it like it's no big deal. We've just spent a couple hundred meandering pages getting to know the victims and murderer without knowing why Sanders offered the details that he did, without knowing what was important, and-- frankly-- without knowing how horrible Kalebu's actions really were. All we knew was that the women had been stabbed and one had died. Why? Did Sanders think only locals would read his book, and they'd therefore have enough familiarity with the story to know the basic details of the crime? Not true of me, at least. Having a bunch of quotations about how it's the worst crime the cops had ever seen while allowing the reader to think it's a random stabbing-only case strikes me as an odd strategy. The description of the trial felt otherwise skimpy, as though Sanders didn't have much interest in that part of the process. He blazed through most of the evidence with a couple summarizing paragraphs, skipping ahead to Jennifer's testimony (which reveals-- again, for the first time-- the rape and torture that Kalebu committed). That was a disappointment, because I do like courtroom scenes, but no one could deny that Jennifer's story was an intense way to end the book. If I could, I'd give the book 2.5 stars, because the things I didn't like seemed to be deliberate choices rather than sloppy mistakes, I appreciated the author's empathy, and I found some parts of the book genuinely well-done and engrossing. When I finished it, I felt like maybe I should go back and reread the dull background sections through the new lens of what had actually happened, but I was too annoyed with Sanders to bother.

  • Katherine
    2019-05-05 16:35

    A heartbreaking read with a powerful and compassionate call to action. The closing paragraphs were absolutely stunning.

  • Michelle
    2019-05-08 10:32

    “While The City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Decent into Madness” (2016) is a profound, compelling, unforgettable book: sequel to the Pulitzer Prize winning article “The Bravest Woman In Seattle” (2012) both authored by Eli Sanders, that recount the horrific incomprehensible crime that cost Teresa Butz her life after she and her partner Jennifer Hopper were brutalized in their Seattle South Park home on the morning of July 19, 2009. Sanders also critically exposes the Washington state mental health care delivery system, where the failure to provide a most basic level of programs and services may contribute to an increased risk of violent criminal behavior.An ordinary lesbian couple, Teresa and Jennifer became better acquainted where they both worked at the downtown Seattle Centre Building. Teresa, friendly and outgoing, raised in a large Catholic family from St. Louis, MO. loved softball and soccer. Jennifer, was an only child of a single mother. Empathetic, and aware of the energy levels of others; she was blessed with a beautiful captivating singing voice, preforming locally and in her church choir. Both women were happy together, visiting neighbors, gardening, and joined an advocacy group for the homeless; planning their commitment ceremony for September 12, 2009.It would have been impossible to predict the collision of Isaiah Kalebu in these women’s lives. There was never a motive, when Kalebu was captured days after the crime, blood was found on his coat. The court and judicial system were aware of Kalebu’s odd erratic behavior, he had been sent previously to Western State Hospital for mental health assessments. Nearly all of Kalebu’s family member feared for their safety, reported him to the police, his maternal aunt Rachel Kalebu filed a restraining order against him. The next day, on July 9, 2009, Rachel and J.J. Jones perished when their Tacoma home burned to the ground.A highly intelligent individual, Kalebu refused all recommended treatments denying he was mentally ill, he attempted to control and manipulate court proceedings, requesting to represent himself. This request was denied, he was unable to be present at his criminal trial due to irrational outbursts and disruptive behavior. A staggering sum exceeding 3 million dollars was spent on his trial and related expenses, the cost to taxpayers for a lifetime prison sentence without the possibility of parole is to be determined.Even with the elite and affluent Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, and Starbucks located in Seattle or nearby, Washington State is rated among the lowest in mental health care spending compared to other states. Mental health care services are reduced/eliminated, programs underfunded, or never existed, while corporate businesses are allowed millions of dollars in tax breaks.The intensity of anger, outrage, and need for revenge common in many true crime stories is noticeably absent from the story. Today, Jennifer is an advocate and preforming musician for victims of domestic violence. A tree was planted in Teresa’s memory at the Butz family home, they have forgiven Isaiah Kalebu. ~ Eli Sanders is the associate editor of Seattle’s free weekly newspaper The Stranger, his work has appeared in many notable publications, he lives in Seattle Washington.

  • Erin
    2019-05-18 11:26

    ARC for review. A second subtitle for this book might well be "How the System Failed Three People" or, even more simply, "An American Crime.". Sanders won the Pulitzer for his coverage of this story and, though I haven't read the articles which won him the prize, there's definitely enough here for a book as the longer format allows us to really get to know Teresa Butz, Jennifer Hopper and Isaiah Kalebu - their lives, their families, their loves and, in Isaiah's case, the ways in which there was so many chances for state or local authorities to have intervened and, perhaps have saved the life of Teresa, for though this is the story of three individuals it's really an indictment of the mental health care system in America and, in particular, the way that it interacts (or doesn't) with our justice system. Authorities first became aware of Isaiah and his potential problems when Isaiah was just a child, but there was never any follow up to recommendations of counseling, never any recourse and Isaiah bore witness to a system that never quite seemed to punish his parents for the things they did to each other, and to him (he was only two months old when he first presented at the ER with a cigarette burn caused by his father and records throughout his school years present a troubled child). There also appears to have been a history of mental illness in Isaiah's family. Don't get me wrong - none of this excuses Isaiah's conduct. He's a terrible, awful person who does horrific things that are nearly beyond belief, but this isn't about saving Isaiah.....this is about having a mental health system that finds Isaiahs and understands that they are a danger to those around them before they leave a string of dead bodies in their wakes. However, the system isn't set up for that - time and again those in positions of power, whether at state mental hospitals or in the judicial system either chose or were forced to let Isaiah go free due to constraints of time, money, authority, you name it. His aunt and his mother begged court officials to keep him off the streets (they feared him too, and for good reason), but to no avail. America's mental health system is described as a "'patchwork relic;'" even that may be too kind. And, of course, it's money that is the problem and it will be money that is the solution, but until we, as a country, decide that the problem is serious enough, worthy of our attention, there will be more Isaiahs, more Teresas and no way to stop them. Well-written and incredibly informative. Recommended.

  • Paul Pessolano
    2019-04-25 11:19

    “While the City Slept” by Eli Sanders, published by Viking.Category – True Crime Publication Date – February 02, 2016.This book will be of great interest to those who like True Crime and should be required reading for those in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. It is also pertinent for those in the criminal justice system.It is a difficult book to review because one finds it hard to begin with the murder or the murderer or the family or mental illness or the judicial system. All of these factors play an important role in the outcome of this tragedy. Teresa Butz was murdered in 2009 and her roommate Jennifer Hopper was seriously injured when Isaiah Kelebu broke into their home and attack them with a knife, this was after sexually assaulting them. Almost three years after the attack Isaiah was sentenced to a life sentence but the story lies in the mental capacity of Isaiah. The author goes into detail of Isaiah’s troubled youth that follows him into adulthood. He tells of the inadequate psychiatric and psychological tests that did and did not diagnosis him as competent to stand trial. The author also shows that all of this could have been prevented had he received proper care early on in his life. He also points out that the cost of proper care is less expensive than his incarceration.A read that asks more questions than gives answers but will certainly give the reader plenty of food for thought.

  • Amy
    2019-05-20 13:44

    I can't seem to get past my problem with this book. I want to embrace it and respect it and love it for being brave and harrowing and important and unflinching. Which it almost is, but in the end, he flinched. The author wants us to feel compassion for someone who was failed over and over again by the system until he committed a truly horrific crime and was locked away for life. And I'm willing to do that, but when it came right down to it he shies away from showing just how bad it was, which feels like a cop-out. It's not that I'm dying to read graphic details about a violent rape and murder, but the whole point is that we see the humanity and feel the compassion even after unimaginable brutality, and if that's where he wants us to go, he needs to take us there. If you want the reader to go all in, you need to go all in too. Close but not quite. Otherwise, it's an interesting story but the writing is pretty flat. Jennifer Hopper is a fucking hero and her words about forgiveness are by far the most powerful thing in the book.

  • Becky Loader
    2019-05-10 12:26

    I remember the news stories about the attacks on these two women in Seattle. Because of the overload we get on such horrific stories, I didn't really pay much attention.Teresa Butz, the woman murdered, is the sister of Norbert Leo Butz, one of my favorite actors. I didn't even realize that at the time. Teresa and Jennifer were women who had been through a lot and had finally found a niche with each other in a funky neighborhood of Seattle. They had no idea that a mentally ill young man was about to disrupt their lives. Isaiah's story made my heart ache. Abusive father, enabling mother, horrible family life, mental illness, and no help combined to leave him out in the cold. What a classic case of a young person slipping through the cracks of the system set up to protect him! I have never felt so sorry for a person who committed such a horrible crime, but he had so much going on inside that his behavior was totally out of control.Truly sobering.

  • Brandon
    2019-05-06 17:35

    More accurately - 3.5 stars (c'mon Goodreads, add the half-star option for goodness sake). At it's best, this is a very insightful and easy-to-read scathing review and commentary on the underfunded and overwhelmed system created to care for persons with mental illness in Washington state by looking at one heinous crime/event from 2009. It will probably inspire you to take up the mantle of social change and fight for better mental health community networks, a revitalized criminal justice system, and less prisons. For it's shortcomings though, the book goes into background histories a bit ad nauseum and often feels more as if it's a testament or memorial to the victims (which is applauded), but it is not my type of engaging or interesting nonfiction. It also might not garner much interest outside of Washington state.

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-19 17:22

    Extensive and inclusive study of a crime. A crime that was beyond horrendous and perpetrated upon strangers by the murderer. It's a read that has myriads of endless details about the three prime characters' lives. The two victims and the murderer. And their eventual outcomes, as well. And does it say something that the length of pages given to the murderer exceed by dozens the total for the other two. It does to me.Beyond sad.

  • Hank Stuever
    2019-04-21 13:19

    A fine example of a reporter taking a story (in this case an unforgettably harrowing Pulitzer Prize-winning story) and digging deeper and deeper (meticulously, beautifully), tracing its ripples and ramifications back to its causes and starting points. I really admire what Eli Sanders has done here (disclosure: we're friends); often a reporter is tempted to go back to a memorable story and extend it into a book and that doesn't always work. This is how it's done.

  • Asra
    2019-05-06 16:32

    An excruciatingly tedious retelling of a "no doi" tragedy. A story probably best served by the news articles and probable editorials already in existence.

  • Shannon
    2019-05-14 17:45

    Total gut-punch. Review to come.

  • Kristin
    2019-05-18 18:38

    Incredibly interesting (and profoundly disturbing) look at the American judicial system, and how it intersects with mental illness, seen through the eyes of one particular legal case and the participants (criminal, criminal's family, victims, lawyers, community, etc.). HIGHLY recommend to all readers who are interested in WHY mass killings and other violent crimes are often not "out of blue," but are instead the accumulation of a long history of someone with mental illness moving in and out of the court system, with multiple opportunities to intervene, help, counsel, etc. missed and or simply turned aside. This book makes an incredibly good argument for why the US legal system needs to start treating criminality and mental illness differently, and separately, as well as why the US needs to "invest" enormous amounts of money into effectively treating mental illness, rather than spending an even greater amount of money on the back end funding unending court cases and prison sentences. And, perhaps more important from an individual perspective, the book shows the extent to which we are all at risk for extreme violence from people suffering from mental illness, and how we're choosing not to mitigate such a threat by choosing to deal with the violence after the fact (overloaded court systems and prisons), rather than beforehand (treatment and prevention)SO many lines in the boom stood out to me:"It was a violent crime. It was a violent crime against women. You can almost call that a hate crime sometimes. Rape just reads to me as a hate crime. There's this, like, 'You're a woman, so by the very fact that you're a woman I can overpower you and make you do what I want you to do.' Which -there is some hatred there, that's fore sure.""By 1980, the population of American mental institutions was down to around 155,000 people, a fraction of the number just two and a half decades previous. By 1994, adjusting for population growth, about 92 percent of those who once would have been institutionalized were not... Over the decades that passed after President Kennedy signed his 1963 Community Mental Health Act, whenever crises arrived, whenever budgets had to be cut, expensive programs designed to help the marginalized and stigmatized population, now dispersed throughout many communities and possessing little political clout, tended to be the first to get the knife.""In the years after [2003], the burden of handling people in psychological distress fell increasingly on families without the capacity to help and, when those families inevitably reached their limit, onto local police, emergency rooms, courts, and, finally, prisons, which had effectively become the new mental institutions , except without the mission to provide restorative treatment. It has been pointed out that there's strong irony to these developments. It was the shameful confinement of psychologically disturbed Americans to prisons that, after being exposed in the 1840s by a woman named Dorothea Dix, led to the creation of mental hospitals and institutions in the first place. According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, which has highlighted the irony, the mentally ill population of America's jails and prisons now far outnumbers the population of its surviving mental hospitals.""Washington [state] addressed it [lack of psychiatric beds at local hospitals] by "boarding" -that is, strapping to gurneys in local emergency rooms- people deemed in need of psychiatric commitment but for whom there were no rooms available in any psychiatric hospital. In 2008, more than 800 people were held in this manner in the county that encompasses Seattle, kept in hallways or open empty rooms... for various and unpredictable periods, waiting, often untreated, in a purgatory that local officials considered inhumane."From the chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, "If you have five minutes with these [first appearance] defendants, you're doing good. I was just sort of praying that nothing happened that would prove that I made a mistake on a release decision. [Comparing the situation to air traffic control] If the planes crash midair, its because you didn't see the blip on the radar screen. It's really kind of terrifying, honestly... So few resources, so little time, and so many criminal defendants.""In an echo of the national mood [Great Recession, 2009], voters in Washington State opposed increasing taxes. At the same time, they demanded more effective government services. Similarly, major businesses in the state wanted tax breaks and were embracing tax dodges while at the same time demanding a better-educated workforce and massive improvements to the transportation infrastructure."A 2009 National Alliance on Mental Illness report "described a system 'in crisis' that was creating a 'vicious cycle that destroys lives, and creates more significant financial troubles for states and the federal government in the long run.'""Judge O'Malley was struggling with an antiquated patchwork of computer systems still used by all trial courts in Washington State. Judges have been asking for improvements to this system for more than a decade. Meanwhile, the state the birthed Microsoft and, later, at Microsoft's urging, allowed the company billions of dollars in tax breaks has struggled to find the money to upgrade its trial courts' case management software.""It has been estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of Washington State's prison population is mentally ill, which is about average for this country.""The situation has gotten 'out of hand,' producing a sprawling diagnostic regime corrupted by pharmaceutical companies focused on marketing to the worried well [largely healthy, but concerned individuals]. "Meanwhile, we are neglecting the severely ill who can be accurately diagnosed and effectively treated. State budgets for mental health have been slashed, radically reducing access to care for people who most need medicine and are likely to benefit from it.' This situation -an abundance of drugs and diagnoses for the worried well, a shortage for the desperate and destitute- was described by Dr. Allan Frances as an 'absurd misallocation of resources.'""The average daily cost for someone to be held at the state penitentiary in Walla Walla is $114. At the newer Clallam Bay Corrections Center, the average daily cost per prisoner is $110."In the case highlighted in this book, Isaiah "is serving life without the possibility of parole. He was sent to the Walla Walla state penitentiary at the age of twenty-six. He was sent on to Clallam Bay at age twenty-nine. If he remains at Clellam Bay until age seventy-three, which is his life expectancy, then Isaiah's prison incarceration alone will cost the State of Washington more than $1,850,000. That's assuming he only costs the average amount, and that's not counting the costs already incurred by King County for keeping Isaiah in jail for nearly two years while awaiting his rape and murder trial. The country estimates these costs at $114,519. It's also not counting the costs of Isaiah's pretrial evaluations at Western State Hospital... or the costs of his multiple visits to Harborview while in custody. The public also paid to prosecute Isaiah (nearly $550.000)and to defend him (more than $702,000) and to allow him a lawyer to appeal his guilty verdict (more than $16,700). The trust cost of Isaiah's crimes in not calculable, of course, but the grand total set to land on the public bill: well over $3 million."*"If Isaiah's crimes could have been prevented through early psychiatric intervention, it could well have saved the public money. This is why advocates continue to argue that it's shortsighted and self-defeating for political leaders to continually cut, and perpetually underfund, public mental health programs in this country while much more easily approving funds for things like new prisons."Solutions? There is a new law in New York, Kendra's Law, that says that "if an adult has been diagnosed with a mental illness, and that adult is likely to create unsafe situations without supervision, AND that adult has a history of noncompliance with treatment that has been connected to previously connected to previous hospitalizations or violence, then this adult can be ordered by a court into outpatient commitment (i.e. community treatment with close supervision, plus immediate consequences for treatment noncompliance). Uniquely, the New York law also commits the state to funding better community treatment, so that people can be prevented from deteriorating in the first place, when possible, and then, when necessary, effectively handled through outpatient commitment." = a "sort of mutual involuntary commitment -the state committed to better mental health care, the individual to better mental health""Had Washington State been better able to respond to Isaiah's presenting needs -for counseling as a young men, for intervention as an adult- the cost-conscious public might have had the opportunity to regularly tells pollsters it's seeking, the opportunity for government to spend less. More importantly, three families, and the wide circle of humanity they intersected with, might have been spared tremendous anguish.""Cuts to the nations mental health care programs have spiked, with $4.35 billion cut from state mental health budgets alone between 2009 and 2012. The consequences are apparent. A study released in the spring of 2014 found there are now ten times as many mentally ill inmates in this country's jails (over 350,000) as there are in state-funded psychiatric hospitals (35,000)."

  • Erin *Help I’m Reading and I Can’t Get Up*
    2019-05-16 14:43

    This is not a true crime novel. This is not a gawking voyeur's account of a tragedy.This is a story of the courage and love of two women, and the society that refused it.This is a story of the mental illness of a young man, and the society that refused to help him.This is a story of the mental health and criminal justice systems, and their parallel, rarely intersecting, uncooperative relationship-- which resulted in a horrific and violent end to a beautiful love and at least one life.A well-researched, well-written, meaningful, powerful book. The author presents an appropriate balance between outrage on behalf of the women who were attacked and, somehow, on behalf of the man whose mental health and, ultimately, his life were allowed to become a violent and horrific testament to our nation's need for proper mental health care and criminal justice reform.5 stars.

  • Rachel Kahn
    2019-05-11 10:40

    Was very excited to read this as soon as it came out. It did not disappoint, although parts of it became tedious at time (but, it chronicled a very lengthy trial, so--tedium to be expected). I really enjoyed reading about Jennifer and Teresa. I thought that the author provided just the right amount of detail regarding the crime for an unknowing reader to get it, but was still respectful of it. However, this book was a testament to the lack of mental health capacity and programs in WA state, which I agree. It did make me a bit nervous of our current situation--with so many people homeless, an opiate crisis, and no current mental health capacity. I also came out of the book with total ambivalence for Isaiah's situation. I am not sure the point of the story was ever to endear or try to understand the situation--but rather to focus on larger policy reforms on how this MAY have been avoided (only may, not certain). But, yeah--not a fan of that man at all, and found him very scary.

  • Jen Stelling
    2019-05-18 16:29

    This was a thoughtful, nuanced look at a horrific rape and murder in Seattle that telescopes out into a broad examination of failed American mental health institutions and practices. Sanders' voice is one of empathy and fairness. Superlative journalism and humane warmth make this a compelling read.

  • Michelle See
    2019-05-13 18:35

    Very well written, asking all the important questions.Unfortunately, I think younger people than I will still be asking those same questions many years after this atrocious crime fades from our memory!Mental health issues continue to be swept aside.

  • Melissa
    2019-05-20 11:19

    Well written, understandable, great descriptions

  • Ally
    2019-04-26 18:39

    (4 1/2 stars, really)This book was fascinating and sobering in equal measures. There is so much to do surrounding mental health and so many roadblocks to getting there.