Review number 220 is a true gift

Thank you, Janine Ward, for this sensitive and insightful review of Leaving the Hall Light On.  I won’t say more. The review speaks for itself.

Inspirational. For anyone who has known untouchable, unimaginable grief that no one deserves and on one survives without lifetime scars, Madeline Sharples’ Leaving the Hall Light On is a must read. It is a book that will shine light into the broken crevices of the soul, and if you are healing, if you feel you are alone, Madeline’s book is the perfect company. It is her transformative story about accepting the grief of unanswerable questions, parenting into the unknown territories of mental illness, losing everything and deciding to live anyway. Along the way she describes it in detail, the intersections she crossed and why she turned the way she turned, proving that anyone can survive anything if we put our minds into it and one foot forward, one day at a time. Joy can return, it will never be the same but the capacity to accept what it looks and feels like now, resides in us all.

The subtitle, A Mother’s Memoir of Living With Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, says it all. Her son, Paul, was born perfect, with no signs of the trouble he was to know in his short life. But even with the trouble, he undeniably lived a life filled with passionate extremes, his native creativity and intelligence led him to experience the width and breath of life that people with much longer lives will never know. And as his illness progressed, his parents were with him every step of the way, even to the moment his father finds his body in their bathroom, trying to make sense of his world, a world that never would make sense, especially to him. Madeline shares with us every moment of their journey, as parents, as a family, and especially from her own unique perspective, Paul’s mother, the one who would never let him go.

The book is filled with pictures of their family together, allowing us to see them as if they were our neighbors, our own children’s play dates or little league team members. As the mother of a son who also suffered from an illness still marginalized in our society, drug addiction, I especially appreciate the exhaustive research she has done and provided us with in the appendix of the book, everything from additional written information, organizations, definitions of medical terms, and resources for help for anyone connected to mental illness. The time is long overdue to start talking about mental illnesses (and addictions) openly and acknowledging that they are as serious and deadly as any other disease, and deserve full research and funding.

This book, Leaving the Hall Light On, is an exquisitely written tribute to Paul’s beautifully unique and tragic life, the effect on his loved ones and how one can not only survive but thrive after loss.

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