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72 Hour Hold


72 Hour Hold

Keri Whitmore is a desperate mother. She's having a good day when
Bebe Moore Campbell's novel, 72 HOUR HOLD, opens, but it doesn't
last. Keri wants only what she used to have --- a healthy teenage
daughter who's headed off to a prestigious university in the fall.
Instead, her beautiful little girl has been transformed by mental
illness and both their dreams seem doomed to the realm of the

Trina, Keri's little girl, has bipolar disorder, and when we meet
Keri, she has already struggled to find out what is wrong with her
daughter. After witnessing her bizarre behavior and being the
object of Trina's abuse, Keri got her medical help and learned
about the disease. Trina seems to be all right for a while, as she
takes the medication that helps keep her behavior under

Then Keri begins to see odd behavior again and the situation
escalates, with Trina using drugs and becoming violent. Her mother
struggles to get her back on track and into a hospital on a 72-hour
hold. Everything has become more difficult because Trina has just
turned 18 and is an adult. So Keri has to navigate the system and
convince officials that Trina is a danger to herself or to others
in order to have her confined. And she struggles to convince
herself that having her daughter confined is the best thing to

Whether it's the best route or not, every 72-hour hold has to end.
And though Trina plays the role of compliant patient for the
medical staff, she isn't fine at all. Keri feels enslaved by the
illness and envisions their struggle as metaphorically similar to
slaves on a plantation, at the mercy of the master brain disease
and Trina's behavior, or the system.

She needs an escape route that will get her fugitive daughter to
the safe harbor of mental and emotional stability. Keri finds the
path to an alternative source of treatment and makes the difficult
decision to follow it because of her desperation. She risks further
alienating Trina and endangering both their lives in order to get
to the promised land of mental health.

Campbell, who has spoken and written about dealing with mental
illness in her own family, has written what easily could be
dismissed as an issue-laden novel. Her skill as a novelist is in
making Keri's story compelling and developing a plot that provides
a view of the daunting tasks families face when dealing with brain
disease. Keri and Trina's journey draws the reader in and is a
beautifully written window into a mother's world. The book is a
fictional memoir of Keri's life as a parent --- and what she gives
up to continue being the mother Trina needs. Campbell's life
experience clearly informs the story and gives it an authenticity
that makes the heartbreak and healing that much more


Reviewed by Bernadette Davis on December 22, 2010

72 Hour Hold
by Bebe Moore Campbell

  • Publication Date: June 28, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 1400040744
  • ISBN-13: 9781400040742