55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Bebe Moore Campbell's latest novel, 72 Hour Hold, focuses on a
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
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2006
I don't even know where to start with this book. It's a day to day story of a divorced mother who is trying to help her daughter deal with a mental illness. On top of that, she is African-American. Our culture typically shuns the mentally ill.
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!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I realize that this is a novel, but as Neil Diamond once sang "Except for the names and a few other changes, you could talk about me, the story's the same one". Having a family member who suffers from manic depression, I've lived through many of the episodes related in this book. There are the lies, the anger, the disappearances, and all of the other things that plague the narrator. One thing also remains the same: the love for the ill person can never be taken away, even though helping him or her causes terrible suffering and stress on the caretakers. It's not a perfect book by any means, but should be must reading for the caregivers of any mentally ill family member. They will see themselves in its pages, as I did.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2005
In 72 Hour Hold, Bebe Moore Campbell struggles to paint a picture of a family battling with the destructive effects of bipolar disorder.
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
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
What would you do if your daughter suffered from a mental illness? Wouldn't you try to do everything in your power to save her? This is what Kerri is facing in 72 Hour Hold, the latest novel by Bebe Moore Campbell. Kerri is a mother who is trying to save her 18-year-old daughter Trina from a dangerous life by forcing her to deal with her bipolar disorder. Due to this mental illness, Trina becomes a violent stranger in her own home. Kerri tries to get Trina the best care possible but the bureaucracy of the mental health system is standing in her way. It also doesn't help that her ex-husband refuses to accept Trina's mental illness. Kerri learns that a seventy-two hour hold at a mental health facility is the only help you can get with an adult mentally ill child. After the hold, Trina can sign herself out and Kerri doesn't have to be notified. Kerri decides to sign up for an illegal, Underground Railroad-type intervention program ran by a group of radicals. When a potentially dangerous situation occurs during this program, Kerri has to decide if she should pull Trina out of the program.
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2008
I enjoyed reading this book. As a psychiatric nurse, I found the book to be a realistic view of the mental health system and the heart break of having a sick child or family member who is not med compliant and is in and out of the hospital.
24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Keri's daughter Trina is everything a mother could want--beautiful, smart, talented. At 18, Trina has her whole life in front of her, and she is about to begin her first semester at Brown University. But then everything changes; the bizarre behavior begins, drugs surface, promiscuity becomes an issue...and Trina begins disappearing for long periods of time. One particularly bad incident lands Trina in the hospital---and Keri discovers that there is a name for what her daughter has become. Trina is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and suddenly the lives of everyone who loves her are changed forever.
A wonderful, moving, emotionally charged novel that chronicles the struggle of a mother to secure a future for her beloved mentally ill daughter...and her determination to do so by working within the mental health system itself, or outside of it. Readers will never view the victims of mental illness, nor those affected by it, the same way again.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2006
Personal Letter To The Family
To you, the family & friends of Bebe Moore Campbell, I would like to give my heartfelt condolences on the lost of one of the best Black Female writers in our community. She has set the bar high, not just in her writing, but in her love for community & devotion to family. 72-hour hold is the only novel I know that addresses the issue of bi-polar disorder in a young black woman. Without family support, many facing these issues would probably not be around, especially in the African American community. Through her dedication, BeBe has helped erase the stigma around the illness by forming the Inglewood chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She knows all to well that this illness effects the family just as much (if not more) as the individual. May those she inspired continue the legacy Bebe has left.
Peace & Blessings
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2005
I think it is great that an author wrote a novel based on a character suffering with the manic depressive demon called "bipolar disorder." It opened up in a gripping fashion and then by about the thirteenth page, it started getting boring. It continued to read like this throughout the book--it escalades then it drops off--escalade, then drops off. I wouldn't consider this a pageturning novel because there are some yawning moments, but it is an educational novel outlining the characteristics of this unfortunate disease.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2007
As a knowledgeable consumer, some things about this book bothered me. It is true that Campbell created some multi-dimensional characters: for instance, the narrator, Keri, and her exes. However, I was so disappointed by how one-dimensional Trina was. 90% of the time she was a psychotic monster. Now I understand very well how important medication is, but it's not like a consumer can't ever be well without it, even if it's just for short periods. Campbell treated both Trina and Angelica as less than human, IMO. I think when she was manic, Trina behaved like a sociopath and Campbell confused this personality disorder with mental illness. All the consumers in her book were violent, often towards their own loving parents. I don't know where she got the idea that that was the typical, because it isn't. Also, not all consumers suffer from nightmares. And I was very disappointed that Trina was never very contrite, not even at the end of the book.
All in all, I think Campbell has a way with words, but some of her impressions were off. We don't need people thinking we are all dangerous; that stigma has got to go!