In this novel of family and redemption, a mother struggles to save her eighteen-year-old daughter from the devastating consequences of mental illness by forcing her to deal with her bipolar disorder. New York Times best-selling author Bebe Moore Campbell draws on her own powerful emotions and African-American roots, showcasing her best writing yet.
Trina suffers from bipolar disorder, making her paranoid, wild, and violent. Watching her child turn into a bizarre stranger, Keri searches for assistance through normal channels. She quickly learns that a seventy-two hour hold is the only help you can get when an adult child starts to spiral out of control. After three days, Trina can sign herself out of any program.
Fed up with the bureaucracy of the mental health community and determined to save her daughter by any means necessary, Keri signs on for an illegal intervention. The Program is a group of radicals who eschew the psychiatric system and model themselves after the Underground Railroad. When Keri puts her daughter's fate in their hands, she begins a journey that has her calling on the spirit of Harriet Tubman for courage. In the upheaval that follows, she is forced to confront a past that refuses to stay buried, even as she battles to secure a future for her child.
Bebe Moore Campbell's moving story is for anyone who has ever faced insurmountable obstacles and prayed for a happy ending, only to discover she'd have to reach deep within herself to fight for it.
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 (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 10, 2006
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Excerpt from 72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell
Right before the devastation, I had a good day. God should have pulled my coattail then and there: "Enjoy this while you can, honey, because Satan beat me in a poker game last night, and he's claiming you and yours sometime soon." After all the praying and tithing I've done, I deserved a heads-up. Damn. Whatever happened to sending a sign? Lean cow, fat cow. Burning bush. Dove with an olive branch. Yoo-hoo! Something.
It was probably better that the events evolved with no foreshadowing. Preparation wasn't possible. And what difference would it have made anyhow? Knowing that the hounds are tracking you doesn't mean you won't get caught; it means you have to get to the swamp fast.
So there I was, clueless: lolling in the bed, stretching my legs and my toes--which needed a pedicure--ticking off a list of things to do in my head, I began to wake up. It was the second Saturday in April. Sunshine was making its way through a thick haze. Rising up, I stared out of my bedroom window, squinting a bit as I tried to discern the LA skyline, framed neatly between the two huge palm trees in my backyard. Thick pea soup almost obliterated the view, but I didn't look away until I sighted those buildings. Once I knew the city had survived the night, my shoulders came down. Anything can happen at any time in an earthquake zone, and I've learned to take nothing for granted. I've gone to bed some evenings only to awaken at dawn to broken windows and cracked dishes. That the Bank of America and Wells Fargo headquarters hadn't been shaken and dashed into oblivion during the night meant I had survived as well. I'm always grateful for a morning with no tremors, no frantic dogs barking.
Trina was beside me, not a heartbeat away, her hip pressed into my thigh. She felt warm against me, the pressure of her body weight comforting. The day after her eighteenth birthday, when most girls were declaring their independence, my daughter was still creeping into my bed. Even when she hated me, she wanted to be close. She was still fresh from last night's bath and smelled like Dove and that pale yellow lotion in the big plastic bottle. That staple of American vanities and kitchen counters promises to banish dry skin forever but can't even begin to handle seriously crusty feet. My grandmother's feet at the end of February would have had that lotion begging for mercy. But then, when you grow up plowing Georgia clay barefoot in the hard times, nothing on or in you remains soft. For Trina's smooth, buttery skin, that watery lotion worked just fine. The toes pressed against my calves were just as supple as the rest of her and just as lovely. Gazing at my sleeping daughter, I could take her in without annoying her. Such a pretty child, I thought. There wasn't a blemish on her honey-colored face. When she was a little girl, I was lulled by the well-wishing smiles of strangers who were bewitched by the dazzling enormity of her round eyes and endless smile, her marble-sized dimples and naturally sandy hair. Trina seemed to take the attention in stride, but it inflated me. My gingerbread-brown face was symmetrical, with two eyes placed where eyes should be, lips that weren't full or thin, a nose that would keep me alive, hair that was thick and strong but otherwise unremarkable. Nobody turned to stare at me when I walked down the street, not the way they did with Trina. I used to think of her beauty as an insurance policy that would guarantee her a perfect life. A lot of people who aren't beautiful think this way.
It was six o'clock, and I had a standing appointment with the treadmill and some free weights. Trina stirred, then turned over and stared at me.
"Hey, grown woman," I said, teasing.
"My back hurts," she said, her voice still tinged with sleepiness. She yawned and arched her body, then settled herself beneath the covers.
This was a setup, and we both knew it. "Well, you should get on the floor and do those exercises I showed you. That will get the kinks out."
"Aww, Mommeee!" she wailed, fully awake.
"Aw, Mommy, what?"
"Can't you rub it just a little bit?"
I felt a twinge of annoyance. She knew I worked out every morning. "Turn over."
Her motion was languid, a movement befitting the idle rich.
I leaned over my daughter and began kneading her back and shoulders. There were no knots of tension anywhere. She became limp beneath my fingers. In a few minutes she was asleep again.