Colleen's Reviews > Weekends at Bellevue: Nine Years on the Night Shift at the Psych E.R.

Weekends at Bellevue by Julie Holland
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Feb 22, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed
Read in February, 2010

In this admittedly disjointed memoir, Holland reveals just what it takes to run the weekend shift at one of America's most famous mental hospitals for almost a decade. Not one to sugarcoat reality, Holland paints a disturbing picture of our current mental healthcare priorities, and quite frankly of herself. I'll admit there were plenty of aspects of her life and personality which I found off-putting, but the raw honesty she displays is a testament to her commitment. I'm not sure I'd choose Holland as a friend or as a doctor, but suspect it was her ability to compartmentalize that made it possible for her to do her job and do it fairly well for 9 years.

Ultimately, I would have preferred a slightly more cohesive narrative structure; the book reads like a series of unrelated vignettes until close to the end. That said, this is certainly a book worth reading if you are in the mental health field. Though I could wish for a more sympathetic narrator, I suspect that Holland's rather grim portrayal of herself reflects the real truth about those battling on the front lines of the mental heathcare system- too little time, too few beds, and too little follow-up must wear down even the most optimistic of practitioners.
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