72 Hour Hold Paperback – Jul 11 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This powerful story of a mother trying to cope with her daughter's bipolar disorder reads at times like a heightened procedural. Keri, the owner of an upscale L.A. resale clothing shop, is hopeful as daughter Trina celebrates her 18th birthday and begins a successful-seeming new treatment. But as Trina relapses into mania, both their worlds spiral out of control. An ex-husband who refuses to believe their daughter is really sick, the stigmas of mental illness in the black community, a byzantine medico-insurance system—all make Keri increasingly desperate as Trina deteriorates (requiring, repeatedly, a "72 hour hold" in the hospital against her will). The ins and outs of working the mental health system take up a lot of space, but Moore Campbell is terrific at describing the different emotional gradations produced by each new circle of hell. There's a lesbian subplot, and a radical (and expensive) group that offers treatment off the grid may hold promise. The author of a well-reviewed children's book on how to cope with a parent's mental illness, Moore Campbell (What You Owe Me) is on familiar ground; she gives Keri's actions and decisions compelling depth and detail, and makes Trina's illness palpable. While this feels at times like a mission-driven book, it draws on all of Moore Campbell's nuance and style.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Keri's beautiful 18-year-old daughter, Trina, has been accepted by Brown University, but she will be able to attend only if she can stabilize her recently diagnosed bipolar disorder. As Trina grows increasingly abusive, both verbally and physically, and substitutes illegal drugs for prescribed medications, Keri struggles to manage her expectations of Trina's prospects. When Trina starts to waver between being a sweet-faced, loving child and a ranting, raving, promiscuous provocateur, Keri's desperation heightens as she longs for the 72-hour hold in a psychiatric ward that will give her time to plot a strategy. Then Keri learns about an underground group that practices radical techniques to help the mentally ill. Keri embarks on a wild and frantic journey that she likens to the Underground Railroad and sees parallels between her own efforts to free herself and Trina from the bonds of mental illness and those of runaway slaves. Campbell is masterful at evoking black Los Angeles and creating strong characters. She bravely confronts a taboo issue in the black community, presenting the anguishing issues of mental illness from the perspective of a resilient and determined mother. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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mother's frustration and desperation when dealing with a daughter suffering from mental illness. Earlier in the year, divorcee Kira Whitmore's beautiful daughter, Trina, was a high school senior and National Merit Scholar with a bright future ahead of her - starting with plans to study at Brown University in the fall. Then suddenly and unexpectedly, Trina changes and Kira innocently ignores a host of symptoms and warning signs. Trina's behavior eventually becomes more violent and erratic, spurring frantic 911 calls and numerous hospital visits that finally yield a diagnosis: bipolar (manic depressive)disorder. Their lives are literally turned upside down when Trina refuses to take the prescribed medication (mood stabilizers and psychotic drugs) and resorts to alcohol and marijuana use which only exacerbate and amplify her self-destructive behavior.
Like the good mother she is, Kira seeks and prays for a remedy or a cure, only to be told repeatedly that there is none, only lifelong treatment via prescription drugs. A weary attending physician does not offer much hope when he informs her with a look of pure pity that "mental illnesses can transform people. You may not be able to get back the daughter you had. You may, as the saying goes, have to learn to love a stranger," and wishes her good luck as a solitary comfort. She rebukes the advice and frantically learns all she can about the disease and its treatment via support groups and her own research with the hope that a breakthrough is on the horizon.
As hard as Kira tries to move in a positive direction, Trina's condition worsens. Her behavior modulates like an unsynchronized pendulum, from depression to mania with little to no warning. Kira reluctantly resorts to law enforcement to protect Trina from herself (often the subject of the attacks)and others. The rules are simple - if Trina is deemed a danger to society; she can be held against her will in a hospital's mental ward for the requisite "72 hour hold." Each time, Kira struggles desperately for an extension, but Trina "acts normal enough" and the requests are denied repeatedly - 72 hours is not, and never will be, enough time for the medication to stabilize the now rebellious, paranoid, legalized 18 year old adult Trina who hates her mother for wanting to "lock her up," thus the spiral into madness begins anew at each release.
At one point in the story, Kira is told, "when you love someone who has a mental illness, there comes a point at which you must detach in order to preserve your own life." But how can a mother ever detach from her child? Desperate times call for desperate measures and, Kira, having exhausted all legal avenues, resorts to an "intervention" which mirrors a covert kidnapping operation that has some disastrous and yet surprising results.
Campbell's story, albeit fictional, is an intense and compassionate testament that patients' rights often clash with what is best for the mentally ill. She paints a very realistic portrait of both the victims and the suffering loved ones charged with their care. Trina's descent into madness is realistic and painful to watch. The medical and legal system's bureaucracy is stifling. Kira's dilemma is heart-tugging. Campbell's skill as a writer is evident with an ingenious thread which portrays mental illness as a form of slavery and blends in imagery and metaphors from the African American slavery experience - references to shackles, plantation life and the Middle Passage. In addition, her usage of the Underground Railroad as a means of escape to freedom while looking toward the North Star as a symbol for hope and guidance was absolutely brilliant.
Campbell's work brings forth awareness because it holds a mirror to society's sometimes judgmental and condemning face. Throughout the novel, we see unkind strangers, impatient friends, and judgmental neighbors who spew unwanted, mean-spirited advice and cite unwarranted rationale for Trina's outcome, oftentimes blaming Kira for not spending enough time with her child when she was younger and other nonsensical causes. She also educates by sharing that a lot of mental diseases are hereditary/genetic and can be triggered by alcohol, drugs, or traumatic events. She challenges cultural boundaries by emphasizing how mental illness is a low priority in many ethnic communities, particularly African American, regardless of how prevalent and obvious it is within the communities. This is a wonderful, enlightening body of work told with the utmost tenderness and sensitivity.
Reviewed by Phyllis
APOOO BookClub, The Nubian Circle Book Club
This book was written so well, that I started reading more on mental illness, since it does not affect me directly. I have read this book twice, and it was new each time.
The African American community (and probably the American community) needs to read this book to see what it's like to deal with an illness first hand, and everything that goes with it (the drugs, the way the government works, the support groups, what it does to a family).
Thank you, Ms. Campbell!
Keri, a successful business owner of a gently used clothing store in LA has an 18-year-old daughter, Trina who has been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Trina has been `on her meds' for quite some time, which ultimately lulls Keri into a sense of complacency. She believes it will always be this way and thinks her daughter will continue on to fulfill all the goals they'd mapped out for her to attain pre-diagnosis. Quickly readers will realize that she is disillusioning herself. Trina goes into a state of mania when she stops taking her pills and takes her mother on a rollercoaster that she was unprepared for. Keri, in essence, forgets to strap on her seatbelt. This book also deals with the issues of shame within the African-American community when someone's been diagnosed with an illness of the mind. Trina's father is adamantly against Trina being treated for a mental illness. Initially, he thinks his ex-wife is exaggerating and seeking attention by "putting Trina through this". Consequently, he is peripherally involved with the treatment and never witnesses the chaos that Trina reeks as she physically and emotionally abuses her mother, herself and in the end, him as well.
I admire the heroine of this novel. Keri is the rock for everyone she's involved with--her on again, off again boyfriend and his son, her ex husband, her child and her employees. And like the rock, she is underappreciated for what she is in everyone's lives. Like many black women, when faced with adversity she keeps moving even though her insides are shattering and falling apart.
When her daughter turns 18, Keri is unable to force `treatment' on Trina when she goes into a manic state unless Trina has physically abused Keri or is showing herself to be beyond help and uncontrollable. Trina is a brilliant girl though, in a manic state and in sanity. When her mother calls the authorities to pick her up for a mandatory 72 hour hold, Trina is in her room, lying calmly in the bed, thus making it seem as if her mother is exaggerating her spells. The only rub is that Keri isn't exaggerating. There were so many times in this book where I thought, Trina needed an old fashioned "grandmamma is in the kitchen warming the strap" whipping, but what good would it do? She wasn't in control of herself. She has a brain disease and isn't responsible for what she's doing when she hasn't been on her meds. This story tugged on your heartstrings. When Keri ultimately goes to a radical "underground railroad" group of white radicals, I was relieved. I felt as if I was going through the situation with her and all I wanted her to do was get Trina the help she obviously needed. The "underground railroad" was as much a resource of freedom for the parents of the mentally ill and the mentally ill themselves as the underground ran by Harriet Tubman to free slaves. The author made a very interesting parallel there with the naming of that group. The Underground Railroad was designed to subvert the legal methods of 72 hour holds, conservatorships, voluntary holds, and locked facilities in favor of regulating the lives of the mentally ill by using exercise, regulation of medications, therapy and separating patients from outside influences for 6 months to a year so that they are totally focused on their recovery.
Suffice it to say, by the end of the story I was exhausted. The story has so many intricacies it loses focus at times and drags on interminably. I believe it would be a great read if the editor would have been a little more diligent with cutting it down a bit. If you have someone in your life that has a mental illness, getting this book would really help you to understand a little of what they are going through. I commend Bebe Moore Campbell for taking on this issue and addressing in a way that was informative and unadorned with artifice.
Review by: Ibis Kelly
72 Hour Hold is a compelling, emotionally-charged novel. Bebe Moore Campbell brings the complex topic of mental illness to the forefront with this story. She tactically shows the never-ending fight and obstacles one may face when trying to deal with a mentally ill relative. Campbell doesn't sugar coat anything in this novel. The realness of Trina's violent, erratic behavior due to the bipolar disorder really hits home with readers of how serious this illness is. Mental illness is a topic that is widely misunderstood, especially in the African-American community. Bebe Moore Campbell once again proves that she is an extraordinary novelist by bringing readers another rich, thought-provoking novel.