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July 12, 2005

Book Examines Family, Search for Treatment

Bebe Moore Campbell, author of the popular children's book "Sometimes my Mommy Gets Angry" explaining the difficulties of a bipolar parent, has just released a new novel that deals again with the difficulties of mental illness.

In "72 Hour Hold", mom and main protagonist Keri Whitmore struggles to find adequate treatment for her teenage daughter Trina, who begins to show symptoms of bipolar disorder in her senior year of high school. In her quest, Keri encounters other parents in local support groups who are dealing with similar crises. Encouraged by one parent in particular, and frustrated with the inadequacies of the standard health care system, Keri finally decides to make the bold move of entrusting herself and her daughter to a different sort of treatment program. The following two paragraphs from the book review in the Boston Globe describe the provocative and secret program:

"...Quickly, Keri finds that the Program is modeled on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman's system of moving slaves from safe house to safe house until they could reach immunity in the North. Brad, one of the ''conductors" of the Program, tells Keri that ''mental illness is a kind of slavery. Our movement is about freeing people too."

Keri and Bethany [the other parent] entrust the well-being of their daughters to Brad and other members of the Program, and set off with them on a journey that takes them from site to site without their knowing where they are at any given time. The goal, as Brad has described, is to make the young women medication-compliant and enhance their recovery through nutrition, therapy, exercise, and love."

Throughout the novel, Campbell often likens the experience of mental illness to the experience of slavery. She says she hopes to invoke conversation about mental illness in African American communities in particular, which sometimes may teach less helpful things about mental illness treatment due to religious fundamentalism.

The review concludes: "'72 Hour Hold" is an absorbing and poignant portrait of the relationship between a mother and daughter illuminated by the light of hope Keri holds up in the dark shadow of Trina's disease."

Ordering information for "72 Hour Hold"
- go to http://www.amazon.com

Original Source Article: "Mother and daughter, divided by the shadow of disease." Boston Globe (http://www.bostom.com), July 10 2005.

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