It has always been an interest of mine to consider the nuances involved in my encounters with others, those that are nourishing and even those that are more distasteful for some reason. In recent years, my interest has broadened to include encounters with animals, nature, books, movies and now, online conversations with people who I treasure yet may never meet.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


 Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide charts the near destruction of one middle-class family whose son committed suicide after a seven-year struggle with Bipolar Disorder. Madeline Sharples is an author, poet and web journalist who goes deeply into her own well of grief to describe her anger, frustration and guilt. She describes many attempts - some successful, some not - to have her son committed to a hospital and to keep him on his medication. The book charts her and her family's redemption; how she considered suicide herself and ultimately, her decision to live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother and writer.
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Contact Madeline Sharples on her blog, Choices, located Here.

The review that I wrote and posted on Amazon was titled, 'A fly on her wall.' Perhaps this may seem to some an odd title. As I was reading the memoir, however, it felt as if Madeline had opened to me, as an observer, a door into the actual experiences had by her family and herself. As an avid reader, those stories that pull me deeply into the experiences portrayed are books that I consider to be worthy of '5-stars.' When a story involves tragedy, an author's ability to invoke in me deep levels of compassion, empathy and even commiseration are key. Chapter One, How It All Began, pulled me in deeply, catapulting my emotions straight into the tragic incident of Paul's suicide then immediately lightening my overload of emotions with scenes of the earlier years of  this fun, loving family. Madeline delivers these scenes as a gift to her readers and gave to me the glimmer of hope that can portend healing and recovery.
If I had not previously worked in the field of mental health, my understanding of a person with Bi-polar Disorder would have been made complete due to Madeline's descriptions that so vividly depicted the emotional roller-coaster ride of this illness, a sometimes insurmountable one. Most compelling for me was Madeline's gut-level delivery of her own emotional roller-coaster ride through grief. She openly shares with her readers the raw thoughts and emotions felt as she and her husband attempted to get her son, Paul, to seek the help he needed and to take the medications that could help him stay more in balance; and, when their attempts failed time after time, to deal with a deep sense of helpless anger, hopeless guilt.
Madeline's journey through grief was a long one yet one that had plateaus of fresh air along her way. Her story portrays a growing sense of hope as each phase brought her towards a place of recognition that the thoughts and emotions within grief are not static; that, above all, grief is 'love in action.' Leaving the Hall Light On is a real-life story that depicts a journey that I would not wish to take yet, it is one that I feel privileged to have been allowed to follow as, 'a fly on the wall.'

Madeline Sharples studied journalism in high school and college, and wrote for the high school newspaper. She only started to fulfill her dream of working as a creative writer and journalist later in life. Her memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, was released in a hardback edition in 2011 and has just been released in paperback and ebook editions by Dream of Things. It tells the steps that Madeline took in living with the loss of her oldest son; first and foremost that she chose to live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother and writer. She hopes that her story will inspire others to find ways to survive their own tragic experiences.
Madeline also co-authored, Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take On Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994). She co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 and 2; and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess, and, Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Madeline's poems have also appeared online and in print magazines.
Madeline's articles appear regularly in Naturally Savvy, PsychAlive, Aging Bodies, and Open to Hope. She posts at her blogs, Choices, and at Red Room. Currently, she is writing a novel.
Madeline's mission since the death of her son is to raise awareness, educate and erase the stigma of mental illness and suicide in the hopes of saving lives.

Madeline and her husband of forty years lives in Manhatten Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles. Her younger son, Ben, lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife, Marissa.


  1. An excellent review of Madeline's memoir which I have also read Dody. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    1. Isn't it interesting, Sonia, the threads that connect us and add flavor to our lives :-} Thank you for paying a visit to my blog.

  2. Thank you, Dody, for sharing your review here on Treasured Encounters. You've given it a beautiful showcase. I'm happy that it will go out to your readers. xoxo

    1. Interesting, Madeline, that memories of our accidentally-being-in-D.C.-at-the-same-time lunch together came back today as I set up this post. I'm glad that I had this opportunity to show-case your beloved memoir. xoxo

  3. You're so good at writing reviews, Dody! You connect to the book emotionally & express it so well. Writing reviews is definitely not something I excel at (and that's putting it kindly), but I know the good stuff when I see it. :-}