While the City Slept by Eli Sanders (5 out of 5)

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I read this one awhile ago, and immediately sent it to my friend Dave M. He loves a good true crime story. This one is so relevant to the crisis going on in this country with the mental health system that it’s not even funny. If anything, it expounds on the unfairness of the way those with mental health issues are handled in this country. It’s enough to make you ill, angry, and feel helpless, all at the same time. The wonderful Caitlin at Penguin Random House reached out to me on Goodreads a few months back about this book. She had noticed that I had named Helter Skelter as one of my favorite true crime books (along with Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil and In Cold Blood), and she asked me if I were interested in a copy to read and review. Who am I to turn down a book? I went further into Goodreads and read up on the book, then answered in the affirmative. In the past month, I’ve read one subpar book after another. This was the exception. It’s a fabulously told, objectively chronicled journey through one night that changed many lives. Also good to know that Eli Sanders, the author, won a Pulitzer Price for his newspaper coverage of the crime. With a background like this, the reader really can’t ask for a better person to tell this story.

Jennifer Hopper and Teresa Butz are newly in love after finally finding one another. Isaiah Kalebu is a 23-year old son of a father who can only be described as a big of a hard-ass authority figure and a mother with a long history of mental illness. Jennifer and Teresa’s fateful collision with Isaiah leaves both lives changed forever, and none for the better. This is one of those stories that you hear about on the news, shake your head in horror, and then it goes the way of a thousand other news stories. Except when someone like Sanders gets the case under their belt and then tells the story to try to make the world more aware of the ongoing mental health crisis in this country. Isaiah, for all of his issues, comes off as a victim himself- of the shameful system of enablers in the mental health care circus in this country. Signs are posted everywhere and yet no one could stop this young man from eventually acting on all of the impulses that were on full display for all to see. I was swearing up a mighty red storm reading parts of this book. How many other individuals are wrestling with impulses out there, and they pass through the so-called guard of mental health care individuals who are paid to see the signs, and protect the innocent? There is no question that Jennifer and Teresa are both innocent in the horrifying violent crime that comes about as a result of Isaiah’s actions. I cannot stress to you how utterly this book will transform your outlook on something that previously may have just flitted under your radar of the world we live in. I strongly recommend this book as a wake-up call, and as a stunning reliving of something so unfair and horrifying that you can’t put it down. The end may be a Google search away, but I hope that you all pick up a copy of this book, read it, love it and scream at it as I did, and then pass it onto someone else. The word needs to get out. Be part of the reason it does.

While The City Slept was released last Tuesday, February 2, 2016, courtesy of the folks at Penguin Random House. Get to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy.

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~ by generationgbooks on February 8, 2016.

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