I just finished Hurry Down Sunshine, which is a memoir of madness. It’s from the perspective of a father looking on helplessly while his teenage daughter goes mad, slipping into her mind, beyond his — and even her own — reach.
I liked it. There were some really poignant moments, particularly when he was writing in the moment, when I was able to feel his visceral reactions to finding your daughter wandering the streets of Brooklyn, babbling about finding the god within all of us. I also liked the way he managed to convey this split his daughter went through — one day she was keeping it together, the next she was on the other side of sanity. That is a very familiar feeling, even if you aren’t someone who has personally experienced a mental illness. The moment. The moment where it all changed. The moment someone died or you made a choice you couldn’t take back or something cataclysmic happened to you — that moment neatly slices your life into two parts.
The book dragged after the first third, though. He spent less time trying to help his daughter (rather, less time writing about that because it is clear that through it all, he is a loving and attentive parent) and more time trying to understand her by proxy — he imagines that unless he can feel what she’s feeling, he can’t understand what she’s going through. He took her medications, which made me really uncomfortable. The book loses it’s footing early on and never quite regains it.
If you’re into memoirs about madness and you have a mental health problem, this might be worth a read for the few lines and thoughts that pop out as unexpected gems. Otherwise, skip it.