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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.
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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.