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Hurry Down Sunshine

Hurry Down Sunshine is a moving story of a father trying to face his daughter’s abrupt mental breakdown.

Author Michael Greenberg does not tip-toe around the subject as you can tell when you open to page one: “On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad.” Her transportation from a vital young woman to a possessed, feverish psych patient is sudden and drastic.

But Greenberg does not hide behind the cloak of fiction either – he tells his family’s story with the view of an insider but the voice of a cold, hard lens. You won’t find any sugar coating here. Not even when the stress builds up and explodes out of his hand onto his wife’s face. “I slap her face, a hard nasty snap … My head is roaring. The tensions of the summer seem to mass in me, and it is as if I am walking beside myself, hollow and enraged.”

From her acute psychotic attack on a playground, to her medicated stint in a psych ward, 15-year-old Sally has to learn to question everything she thinks is real. “I don’t trust my mind anymore. I don’t know when I’m being psychotic.”

At one point, Greenberg even swallows a full dose of his daughter’s medication in an attempt to feel what she feels. “The air feels watery and thick, until finally I am neck-deep in a swamp through which it is possible to move only with the greatest of effort, and then only a few feet at a time.”

Hurry Down Sunshine is about a father’s helplessness, a mysterious disease and a life that slaps you in the face when you least expect it – “a hard nasty snap.”

This isn’t a story with a happy ending. In fact, there is no ending. It gives an honest look at mental illness and refuses to package it up in a pretty bow. Sally’s struggle to anticipate bouts of psychosis is ongoing. “I’m trying to recognize when it’s coming on so I can get out of the way or at least drop to the ground like you would when caught in the crossfire of a shootout.”

Whether mental illness has touched you in some way or not, Hurry Down Sunshine is a gripping story you won't want to put down.

When Greenberg told his daughter he was writing a book about her, she simply replied, “I want you to use my real name.” Obviously brave honesty runs in the family.

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“Hurry Down Sunshine”