Pepper is a big man. He’s accused of a crime that he doesn’t see himself in. He’s dropped suddenly, into a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York called New Hyde. He’s not mentally ill, but that doesn’t seem to matter – the police don’t want to work unpaid overtime to process him and the hospital machine doesn’t want to refuse.
72 hours turns into a month and then more. In the darkness of his room, he’s visited by a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It isn’t a delusion. The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down. Pepper makes friends with three other inmates and plans to fight back: Dorry, an elderly schizophrenic who’s been on the ward for decades; Coffee (Kofi), an African immigrant with severe OCD; and Loochie, a bipolar teenage girl.
What’s real? Who is the very real monster and how do we fight it? How do we treat people unwanted by mainstream society? How do we know if we are experiencing reality?
Read along with us! Next month we’re reading The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahaay.