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A-72HourHoldIn her latest novel, Campbell seeks to paint a realistic portrait of a family’s struggle with mental illness and address the stigma that society, particularly the African-American community, continues to attach to those so afflicted. Campbell’s protagonist, Keri Whitmore, is a career-driven owner of a successful clothing store whose seemingly perfect daughter, Trina, is diagnosed with bipolar disorder shortly before her matriculation to Brown University. Trina’s deterioration is fueled by her refusal to take her medication, which drives Keri to seek help from a renegade organization that kidnaps patients until they comply with its treatment program.
Knopf. 336 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 1400040744

Chicago Sun Times 4 of 5 Stars
"… the novel is as fast-paced as its title implies. And at no point did Campbell become preachy. She let her commanding storytelling pull me in, and she kept me riveted during this timely tale of a mother’s roller coaster ride to hell and back." Mary Mitchell

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Strong sensory impressions, vivid metaphors, and a stream of consciousness that runs through a mother’s worried mind: The story … comes on strong and doesn’t let up." Diane Scharper

Orlando Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Campbell’s work holds a mirror to the sometimes uncompassionate face of society. … This is a wonderful, enlightening story told with the utmost tenderness and sensitivity." Phyllis Rhodes

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"To some extent, this is a novel for policymakers. It reveals the pain behind the statistics, the bewilderment of repetitive loss, the ebb and flow of hope against hope and, finally, the necessity of acceptance. It deserves a wide audience …" Nancy Rawles

Miami Herald 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The river of desperation that runs through the book is overwhelming at times. Contributing to the novel’s bleakness are the on-and-off involvement of Trina’s father and Keri’s guilty relief when Trina is temporarily locked up—the ‘72 hours’ of the title." Amy Driscoll

Minneapolis Star Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Campbell has become something of an advocate for the mentally ill in recent years, but while this book occasionally overloads us with technicalities, it remains a novel and not a coping manual. … Of all Campbell’s novels, this one feels closest to the bone."
John Freeman

San Francisco Chronicle 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Campbell’s clearly trying to make a few specific points, but while doing so she’s created a story that is universally touching." Amy Westervelt

Critical Summary

72 Hour Hold takes the reader on a harrowing journey into mental illness through the eyes of a mother whose idyllic life shatters as her daughter descends into bipolar disorder. The book is grim yet riveting, occasionally painful to read but impossible to put down. Campbell, a bestselling novelist, writes from experience—a member of her own family suffers from a mental illness, and she helped form a support group in Los Angeles. African-Americans suffer most acutely from mental illness, in part because they are more likely than whites to be misdiagnosed and also because much of their own community refuses to acknowledge their suffering. Campbell thus likens mental illness to slavery, which most critics found to be an apt analogy.