While They Slept by Kathryn Harrison
An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family

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Early on an April morning, eighteen-year-old Billy Frank Gilley, Jr., killed his sleeping parents. Surprised in the act by his younger sister, Becky, he turned on her as well. Billy then climbed the stairs to the bedroom of his other sister, Jody, and said, “We’re free.” But is one ever free after an unredeemable act of violence? The Gilley family murders ended a lifetime of physical and mental abuse suffered by Billy and Jody at the hands of their parents. And it required each of the two survivors–one a convicted murderer, the other suddenly an orphan–to create a new identity, a new life.


About Kathryn Harrison

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Kathryn Harrison has written the novels Thicker Than Water, Exposure, Poison, The Binding Chair, The Seal Wife, and Envy. Her autobiographical work includes The Kiss, Seeking Rapture, The Road to Santiago, and The Mother Knot. She has also written a biography, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and, most recently, a book of true crime, While They Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family. She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their three children.
Published June 10, 2008 by Random House. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs.

Unrated Critic Reviews for While They Slept

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Kathryn Harrison’s new book brings moral clarity to the dark fate of the family of Jody Gilley, who was 16 when she survived a rampage by her brother in 1984.

Jun 08 2008 | Read Full Review of While They Slept: An Inquiry ...

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Tara Ison USA Today 4 of 5 Stars "Initial trepidation about whether Kathryn Harrison is using the tale of convicted murderer Billy Gilley and his surviving sister, Jody Arlington, to rehash her own tragic story is quickly replaced by a certain realization: Harrison’s history as a survivor ma...

Jun 09 2008 | Read Full Review of While They Slept: An Inquiry ...

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