Why did I love this book?
This is a recent reissue of a book first published in 1974 and long out of print. Bette Howland gives us a vivid and honest account of her time in Ward 3 of a Chicago psychiatric hospital after a serious suicide attempt in her late twenties. I was moved by the moments of communion, camaraderie and even comedy the narrator shares with her fellow patients. Having said that, Ward 3 is a terrible place. The “treatments” are also punishments. The narrator confronts the ward’s alienation with clear, unsentimental detachment. I was absorbed by her struggle to retain an element of dignity in the face of the hospital’s fatally indifferent bureaucracy.