Hurry Down Sunshine tells the story of the extraordinary summer when, at the age of fifteen, Michael Greenberg’s daughter was struck mad. It begins with Sally’s sudden visionary crack-up on the streets of Greenwich village, and continues, among other places, in the out-of-time world of a Manhattan psychiatric ward during the city’s most sweltering months. “I feel like I’m traveling and traveling with nowhere to go back to,” Sally says in a burst of lucidity while hurtling away toward some place her father could not dream of or imagine. Hurry Down Sunshine is the chronicle of that journey, and it’s effect on Sally and those closest to her- her mother and stepmother, her brother and grandmother, and, not least of all, the author himself. (Biography)
Hurry Down Sunshine is a novel in 3 parts. The first part deals with the day Sally had her crack-up and the trip to the emergency room to find out what was wrong with her. Part two tells about her 24 week stay in a psychiatric hospital. Part three goes on to describe her release from the hospital and dealing with life on the outside again. There are no chapters in the book and normally this would really bug me. I personally like shorter chapters in a book since I am a person who reads a little here and a little there, the short chapters always give me a good starting or stopping place. But in this book , having no chapters really work.
Sally’s descent into madness seems to happen overnight. Her parents are at a loss to figure out how Sally’s personality can change that quickly. Fearing something physiological they take her to the emergency room where after consulting with the staff psychiatrist, they find out her “condition” is Bipolar 1. The treatment? To be checked into a psychiatric hospital. At first her father is resistant. His daughter is not crazy, there must be something elso wrong with her. But after looking at her again he realizes he is not able to take care of her when she is like this.
Upon being checked into the psychiatric hospital, her parents are denied visitation until Sally comes out of the Quiet Room. Sally is in isolation until she is a little more manageable. After being released to a regular room her Dad visits her daily for several hours a day. When she’s released after little more then three weeks he is surprised- he hasn’t seen that much improvement.
Sally is released, slowly weaned off drugs and getting ready to start the tenth grade, a fact that makes her nervous that she can’t cut it and everybody will be staring at her and talking about her. She improves slowly and then one day it’s like a breakthrough, and she seems to be her normal self again.
I can’t say I really liked this book. It was interesting to learn a little bit more about mental illness. I, like the author, was surprised at how quickly someone can change and all of a sudden be declared mad. I always thought the descent into mental illness is a slow process and there are various warning signs. Sally’s struggles were very real. During moments of lucidity she was very profound. I think this book would have been more interesting from her point of view. If you are interested in Bipolar 1, have Bipolar 1 (formerly called manic depressive), or know someone that does- this book could probably give you a lot of insight into the minds of patient or parent. If you don’t then you might want to skip this book. The few tidbits I gleaned out of it did not make up for the time I spent reading it.