In the midst of an undiagnosed bipolar episode, eighteen-year-old mother Rafaela commits an irrevocable crime, causing social services to intervene and take her infant away. She finds herself in jail, alone and childless, yearning for nothing more than a sweet connection with her baby daughter. Found unfit to stand trial, Rafaela winds up on a locked psychiatric ward. There she must grapple with her own conscience over what she has done, the knowledge that she can never regain the lost years with her daughter, and the unpredictable nature of her illness. Not fully seen or heard by dozens of therapists, Rafaela slips through the cracks as her illness spirals out of control.
When she meets a caring new therapist, her bleak situation starts to turn around. Armed with new hope, Rafaela begins the journey towards recovery. She reaches out to others. At a support group she meets a spirited young woman who lives with the same illness as Rafaela, and the woman's friend, who suffers from depression. A friendship begins to form between the three women.
When one of the women comes to visit her on the ward, Rafaela inadvertently discovers something that causes her breath to catch in her throat: the woman has the same identifying mark on her that distinguished Rafaela's baby from the others, years ago. Could it be her daughter after all this time? And if it is, how can she ever hope to face her with the truth?
Spanning two decades, Rafaela's story chronicles her recovery, as well as her redemptive journey, which transports her from the hospital ward to life "on the outside." She learns to revel in her new roles as mother, grandmother, writer, and compassionate friend. Lullabies in Bedlam is a novel about heartbreaking loss, the unshakeable bond between mother and daughter, and the sacrifices we as parents make to protect our loved ones, even as mental illness threatens to tear our world apart.