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Leaving the Hall Light On Hardcover – April 8, 2011

196 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"I recommend this book to suicide survivors and to mental health professionals. Madeline Sharples is much more honest about what it is like to survive suicide than most patients and clients allow themselves to be." - Fran Edstrom, American Association of Suicidology

"A poetically visceral, emotionally honest account of Sharple's experience with her son's bipolar disorder, his suicide and her family's grief and gradual adaptation to their terrible loss. I will be a better, more empathic psychiatrist, and a better person and friend after having read this extraordinary memoir." - Irvin D. Godofsky, M.D.

"I recommend this book to those who lost a child or who struggle with the mental illness of a child, and to anyone at all who wants a deep, intimate read where the author bares her soul and lets you into her world!" - Bonni Rubinstein, Organizer of the Facebook group "Loss of an Adult or Young Adult Child"

"Leaving the Hall Light On left me in tears. It is a heart-wrenching book; I could not put it down. Anyone who wants to learn how to live with children or adults with bipolar disorder, must read this book." - Mary Barrett, The Nashville (Illinois) News

"It must have taken great courage to reveal your story to yourself and your family let alone to the world at large. I was completely caught up in your life and the heart-wrenching drama that you were experiencing. The world is a better place for your having written this book." - Mark Shelmerdine, CEO, Jeffers Press

From the Author

Madeline Sharples offers the story of her son Paul's journey into madness and the life she rebuilt from the rubble of profound sorrow and heartbreak. Sharples describes her grief and the guilt-ridden aftermath, and then moves forward to share with readers how she emerged from a heart-crushing event alive, whole, and productive.

Interspersed with photographs, as well as poems stunning in bare emotion, the book explains what happened in the life of Madeline's family before and after the death of her eldest son, and how Madeline, her husband, and younger son claimed the ability to move forward with their lives--honoring the memory of Paul and facing honestly the toll his mental illness took on their family.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Lucky Press, LLC (April 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984631720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984631728
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,706,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Although Madeline Sharples worked for most of her professional life as a technical writer and editor, grant writer, and proposal manager, she fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. She pursued her writing interests in high school while studying journalism and writing for the high school newspaper, and she studied journalism in college. However, she only began to fulfill her dream to be a professional writer later in life.

Madeline's memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, is the harrowing but ultimately uplifting tale about her son Paul's diagnosis with bipolar disorder, through his suicide at her home, to the present day. It details how Madeline, her husband, and younger son weathered every family's worst nightmare.

In addition to Leaving the Hall Light On, Madeline co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994) a book about women in nontraditional professions and co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 (Muse Media, 2004) and 2 (2010). Her poetry accompanies the work of photographer Paul Blieden in two books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy as well as appearing in print and online on many occasions.

Madeline is now a full-time writer and is working on her next book, a novel, based in the 1920s. She and Bob, her husband of 40+ years, live in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 71 people found the following review helpful By A. Felsted on September 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We live in a culture obsessed with the illusion of happiness. When we run into a friend, the customary greeting is, "Hi, how are you?" But we don't usually want to know the answer, not if the person in question is struggling with serious issues.

In point of fact, we prefer they keep their issues to themselves and smile like everything's fine. Then we sit back and wonder why those who commit suicide didn't show any signs, why they didn't ask for help, why no one did anything to stop them.

I started thinking about suicide as a teenager. What would happen if I discreetly jumped off a cliff, or stepped in front of a car, or threw myself out the window?

I'd love to write the politically correct thing now and say I stopped thinking of it when I grew up, but the truth is that even now, I imagine doing it whenever I'm depressed. Yes, I know that's seriously twisted. But imagining these scenarios has a way of making me feel better. Probably because I'm conscious of how much power there is in simply choosing to live. That said, I doubt I'm the only person like this, and wonder how many normal people let their minds think of this when they're feeling hopeless or depressed.

This book was hard for me to read for a number of reasons:

1. It deals with serious issues like mental illness and suicide.
2. The descriptions of manic depression and paranoia are accurate to a tee and forced me to remember things in my own life that I'd rather forget.
3. The author doesn't sugar-coat the situation.
4. She is honest about her feelings.

Number four is key, because as much as society claims to value honestly, we lie to ourselves ALL THE TIME. What's worse? We criticize those who tell the truth. There's a reason politicians lie.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By on September 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Leaving the Hall Light on is an incredibly brave and honest look at a mother's feelings after her son commits suicide. Madeleine Sharples goes to great lengths to bring in others' points of view and to let us see her agony and changing emotions. That part of the memoir is great.

But read with caution. A diagnosis of manic depression is NOT a death sentence. Predisposition to suicide is not predestination, something Sharples seems to confuse at many points. For example, Sharples writes, "Suicide is the destiny of most people--especially young men--with bipolar disorder..." (p. 91). While Sharples claims this is the contention of author Kay Redfield Jamison, and while Sharples son did, in fact, commit suicide, propagating this idea of suicide as destiny for those with bipolar disorder/manic depression is just as irresponsible as telling an alcoholic, "Forget about AA; it just doesn't work." Yes, some will never overcome, but some WILL. Do not take away hope from those struggling every day to stay this side of the abyss.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dina Kucera on August 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
Leaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples
My daughter is bipolar. So I really wanted to read this book to find out... How do I make it stop? Reading Madeline's book made me realize I don't have the power to make it stop. The roller coaster and the constant walking on eggs shells around a person with bipolar disorder, is unending, until of course they find a medication that will work, and that medication will only work if they actually take it. I have found the people with this mental illness, they don't believe they are mentally ill. People are attacking them, when people really aren't attacking them. Everyone is against them, when no one is against them. So to convince a person with bipolar disorder to seek help is almost impossible.
The gift that I take away from 'Leaving the Hall Light On' is the way Madeline and her beautiful family responded to the worst tragedy any mother, father and family can endure. While it's true that Paul was bipolar and it is also true that he took his own life, what this amazing family has done is to say, that doesn't define who Paul really was as a human being. There are a million other things that describe Paul. He was a gifted musician, he was kind and caring and incredibly intelligent. He was a computer whiz and loved children. Paul loved his mother, father and his brother Ben. He fell in love and was loved back. These are the things he left behind, the evidence of a life, that Paul was so much more than his illness. What the Sharple family has done is choose not to live in the one horrific day and instead, remember the other million days.
For anyone that has lost someone they love, this family can help you navigate your way through the darkness. It's clearly not easy, but it can happen.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Barbs on May 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is a testament to the power of the human soul. It shows the strength of a woman and a family who had to go through the worst human tragedy, and get to the other side in a loving, peaceful and compassionate way. This is the most honest and heartfelt story about losing a son to suicide. She just tells it like it is and anyone can relate to that. They were just a normal regular family who had the worst happen to them. They all got out the other side stronger, closer, healthier, productive and positive. It makes you feel that nothing is too painful. Madeline Sharples lovingly tells the world that anyone can come out the other side, healed and excited about life. I cannot recommend this book more highly. I could not put it down. I loved this book. It make me want to run 20miles, eat healthy, write, create, see my friends and live my life to the fullest. Madeline is an incredible writer that leaves you wanting more. Extraordinary!!
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