Guests on Earth by Lee Smith


Guests on Earth by Lee Smith main setting is Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.  Through narrator Evalina’s eyes, I viewed the  realities of mental health care during the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Zelda Fitzgerald died at Highland in a fire in 1948.  A portion of this story is about Zelda’s various hospitalizations at this progressive hospital.  The larger portion is Evalina’s life story –  one not to be missed.

After reading the book, I sent Lee Smith the following email.  I never expected to hear back from her; much less see the words “you’re just a terrific writer” in her response about my eating disorder’s article.

Dear Lee,

I am currently reading the book Guests on Earth.  Having been a patient in several mental health facilities seven years ago, I appreciate the historical view of mental illness treatment.  By highlighting the past, you are helping to open up a conversation about present day mental health stigma and treatments.

I understand how it took you so long to be ready to write this book.  It took me 3 years to write the following article about my experience on the Eating Disorders Unit my daughter’s first Thanksgiving.  I didn’t suffer from an eating disorder.  But there were not any inpatient beds on the crisis unit so the hospital decided to place me on the eating disorders unit.  I was suffering postpartum anxiety and psychosis.  Below is a link to my article.  Please share where you deem appropriate.

Warm Regards,

Kerri Hall