In 1975, one year after Patty Hearst and her captors robbed Hibernia National Bank, a second kidnapping took place far from the glare of the headlines. Virginia Holman’s mother, in the thrall of psychosis, spirited her two daughters to a cottage on the Virginia Peninsula, painted the windows black, and set up the house as a MASH unit for a secret war. A war that never came. The family — captive to her mother’s schizophrenia and a legal system that refused to intervene — remained there for more than three years.
Reviewers nationwide have praised Holman’s “riveting,” “endearing,” and “wryly humorous” story of a young girl caught in the whirlwind of madness — a girl who chooses a brainwashed heiress as her role model. Holman’s memoir vividly and brilliantly evokes the interior worlds of the sane and the insane and the delicate membrane in between. An essential exploration of identity, captivity, and love, RESCUING PATTY HEARST will inspire readers’ faith in the resilience of one family’s spirit to survive and thrive even in the direst of circumstances.
In recognition of this book’s excellence and impact, Virginia Holman received a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism and an Outstanding Literature Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She is also the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. Her articles about mental illness have appeared in DoubleTake, Glamour, Self, Child, Washington Post, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution.