Book Review: “72 Hour Hold”

This month’s book review pick is “72 Hour Hold” by Bebe Moore Campbell. Her novel is set in a black family- a mom and daughter in California.

Clearing Up A Mystery

For those of you who may not know what a 72-hour hold is, it’s an order signed by a psychiatrist for someone to be hospitalized (voluntarily or involuntarily) for further psychological observation.

This can happen for a variety of reasons but mainly to prevent a patient from harming themselves and/or others. I have helped with admissions and discharges for these holds. I’ve also helped with other things during these times and it’s not easy or pretty.

The patient may or may not stay the whole 72 hours- I’ve seen people leave in less than 24. This depends on a lot of factors. This isn’t always a good thing, because if someone really needs to be hospitalized but is able to convince doctors and staff that they are “okay” to leave, bad things can and have happened afterward.

The Rest of the Story

The main character in this story, Trina, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She’s in high school and about to turn 18. Due to a severely aggressive episode with her mom, Keri, she is once again hospitalized.

Keri becomes exhausted with the lack of help from the mental health facility that Trina is in. She’s trying to deal with her daughter’s illness, her boutique, Trina’s father’s denial of her illness and just trying to live a “normal” life.

The black community has a long-standing stigma about mental illness- you don’t get help. You don’t talk about your sadness “outside” the house. You pray about it. I have a post about this issue Breaking Down While Black

Keri wants to help Trina the best way she can, especially before she turns 18. When she turns 18, that’s it- she will be able to make her own decisions. Keri finds a somewhat controversial and possibly illegal way to do so- but what is it? Does Trina respond? What happens next?

Recommended Reading after “72 Hour Hold”: “Black Pain”