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Nineteen Seventy-Four: the year of Watergate and Patty Hearst's kidnapping. It was also the year Virginia Holman's mother slowly began to lose her mind. It was "a bad time to go crazy," because crazy -- even the symptoms of rampant clinical psychosis -- could be explained away by the changing times, readily mistaken for conscious attempts at personal liberation.
Holman's first indication that something was wrong came when she was only eight years old. She was taken by her mother "to follow the color red"; a trip ending in tears and confusion. Shortly afterwards, Holman's mother silently packed up both of her daughters, spiriting them away from a comfortable suburban existence, and moved to a cold, dingy, cramped, summer cottage, where they remained for the next three years. There, behind the windows her mother painted black, Holman became a foot soldier in a secret army; their cabin a hospital for war orphans existing solely in her mother's mind.
In Rescuing Patty Hearst, Holman captures the pain of coming to terms with her mother's mental illness. Holman spent much of her adult life trying to reconcile her feelings of guilt with a haunting sense of liberation after her mother's voluntary commitment. In this provocative memoir, she shines a piercing light on the murky world of mental illness and the legacy it leaves behind. (Spring 2003 Selection)