Leaving the Hall Light On
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Leaving the Hall Light On

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  40 reviews
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, author, poet and web journalist, goes deep into her own well of grief to describe her anger, frustration and...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 8th 2011 by Lucky Press
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Jessica Bell
This memoir pins you down and never lets go. There wasn't one moment where I wasn't thinking about Madeline's heartbreak, and Paul's suffering, and anticipating the time I could sit down and read it again in peace. You want to immerse yourself in total silence while reading this extraordinarily powerful story. I'm not sure why I felt this way. Perhaps it was a subconscious act of respect. Perhaps I felt as if Madeline, Paul, Bob and Ben, needed my undivided attention. Actually, I think that is t...more
Janice Williams
"Leaving the Hall Light On" is a memoir by poet Madeline Sharples of California. Madeline is the mother of two sons. The eldest, Paul, suffered from bipolar disorder, which came on suddenly in young adulthood and resulted in his committing suicide at a young age. In the years since that terrible time, Madeline has written poetry, worked hard to maintain her own body and mind in a healthy way, and found a way to move forward, as a mother, as a wife, as a woman whose heart and spirit were broken b...more
We live in a culture obsessed with image. Not just image but 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 anyt...more
Belinda Nicoll
The prime concern of any well-adjusted parent is to take responsibility for their children’s well being—to love and nurture them into adulthood, and beyond. The difficulty to ‘let go’ often seems to be the norm rather than the exception, so I can’t even begin to imagine how you deal with a child’s premature death, let alone if it’s due to suicide. Sharples has no choice but to do all of the above, plus she plucks up courage to write the story and in doing so probes into the painful details of he...more
Sonia Marsh
A mother’s Quest to Understand the Loss of Her Son To Suicide

This is the first memoir I’ve read about a son suffering from bipolar disorder and eventually committing suicide.
As a mother myself, I have to say, Madeline Sharples, covers every aspect of what a mother, wife and friend must feel which such candor, that I could hear her voice as I was reading.
She questions everything in such detail, and the range of emotions from intense love for her son, to intense frustration, anxiety, and even stat...more
What parent can imagine living through the horrors of a child’s battle with bipolar disorder ending in suicide several years after diagnosis and attempted treatment? Likely no one’s imagination works at this level.

Madeline Sharples, author of Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, has lived this nightmare. And amazingly, she and her family survived this traumatic period.

Sharples’ memoir chronicles her elder son, Paul’s de...more
Martina Newberry
Once I began reading this book, I couldn't put it down until it was done. This is a moving,powerful and oh-so-very-human account of the suicide of one mother's son told through poetry and prose. The author doesn't just tell the story, she invites the reader into her family's life. We don't just hear what happened, we EXPERIENCE what happened and the fallout from it and the ongoing will the survivors have to survive.

Very often,personal stories of such tragedies paint the storyteller as a saint,so...more
Sharon Lippincott
Madeline Sharples fulfilled several purposes as she wrote her memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, about surviving the trauma of her son's sudden affliction with bipolar disorder and eventual suicide. One purpose was to find closure for her personal grieving process by sharing Paul's story with the world to ensure his memory lives on. She also wrote to educate the public about this disorder and mental illness in general, hoping to make some dent in the lingering stigma it still carries, and finall...more
Jennifer Berger
Jul 29, 2013 Jennifer Berger rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Jennifer by: Janis Pressau
What a deeply touching book! Ms. Sharples does a wonderful job describing her trials, tribulations and creative process to overcome her son's mental health issues, and eventually, sadly, his suicide. I honestly cried through the majority of this book as I have wandered down the same path as a family member of someone who is not well. The confusion, blame, hopelessness, aggrivation, resignation, and emotional healing feeling-rollercoaster ropes you into the story. Ms. Sharples is a very strong wo...more
Cheryl "Mash"
Leaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples
Published by Dream of Things
Publication Date: July 13, 2012
ISBN-10: 0982579489
ISBN-13: 978-0982579480
Pages: 338
Review Copy from: Dream Of Things
Edition: TPB
My Rating: 4

Leaving the Hall Light On is about living after loss: first and foremost how author Madeline Sharples chose to live and go on with life and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, writer. It is about the steps Sharples took in living with the loss of her son, including...more
Ellen Cohen
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...more
Lynda Kelly
It was apparent from the subject matter that this would be a harrowing story and it was but with plenty of brighter moments too so don't be put off. I'd read mention in the blurb that the author had been castigated for making it about her and not so much about her son but I'd heartily disagree with that opinion. It features Paul throughout the book and who else's feelings could she write about better than her own ? You have to wonder at some people..........
It had parallels with Danielle Steel's...more
Ravina Andrea Kurian
I think as parents, all you ever want to do is protect your child. When you think you have failed to do this, then you have failed as a parent even if the situation is beyond your control.

This was a heartbreaking read. There were many bits when I put myself in her shoes and I could feel the sheer terror pass through my veins. I do give her a lot of credit for having the courage to document this journey to share with us.

As a book, it wasn't an easy read because you become so choked up with emot...more
Rhonda Rae Baker
Leaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples - Review
This is a beautiful memoir that spoke to and encouraged me in many ways. The loss and grief was palpable as Madeline took me along with her down the dark valley of her son's illness, his untimely death, and her press towards healing.
She uses poetry that is deeply moving and woven in the story beautifully. I also enjoyed the pictures she included as it helped me see the family members and embrace their journey.
I've never lost a child and ne...more
Dawn Herring
As host of #JournalChat Live for all things journaling on Twitter, I have had the delight of meeting and chatting with writer, poet and avid journal keeper, Madeline Sharples, author of the memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, which reveals her in-depth experience as Mom of a son who suffered with bi-polar disorder and who later committed suicide.

Up to this point, I had only read memoir from an adult child's point of view of the parent and not ones that dealt directly with a child's mental illness...more
Pauline Allan
My first impression of this book was the haunting image on the cover. It's taken me over a year since I first discovered this book to actually download it and start to dig through the pages. The first image was solitified in my mind and carried me through to the very end. This is a mother's struggle with her oldest son as he battles bipolar disorder. I had two very distinct impressions while reading this book. First I was concerned for this mother and her relationship with her son. I kept lookin...more
I couldn't assign this any stars-how do you rate the story of a mother losing her son to a mental illness and suicide? The anguish and all the second guessing she did drew me in. I have some experience with both mental illness and suicide and so it was easy to relate. When she referred to suicide as self-murder and hell, I was devastated. When I talk about the person I know, sometimes I say suicide and sometimes I say he was sick. And when I think of my son whom I have had to hospitalize on more...more
A very moving book on a topic most of us pray we never have to deal with. To say my heart breaks for Mrs. Sharples seems like not enough. Her family has been through so much, and yet still she continues on. To lose a child is something I hope I never have to face, but I'm grateful that someone can put their painful emotions down to help the rest of us.
I thought it was a good memoir about how a mother dealt with her son's bipolar disorder. She also tells how she got through the pain of losing him and how she was able to move with her life. It's not just about death but healing too.
Mike O'Mary
This is a powerful story and it is beautifully written. I recommend it to anybody who has dealt with the mental illness of a family member, with suicide, or with loss of any kind. It's a sad story, but it's a healing book.
Sarah Chamberlain
This book is a well-written account of how members of a family grieved and came to terms with the death by suicide of a member of the family who had Bipolar II disorder.
What a wonderful tribute to your son, Paul. I marvel at how you handled the loss and ensuing months and wonder if I could have done as well. My heart and thoughts are with you.
This is a tough book to read as a parent. But I'm glad I did. Kudos to the author for sharing her difficult story.
Grace Peterson

THE TV SHOW 60 MINUTES ran a segment recently that addressed the issue of mental illness and the mistreatment of patients by the current mental health care system. There is a cycle: patients are at risk of becoming a danger to themselves or others and are admitted to a psychiatric facility. Doctors prescribe medication which stabilizes the patient. The patient is then released. Back in society, the patient stops taking the meds, destabilizes and is readmitted. And the cycle continues. Pardon my...more
Nancy Osberg-otrembiak
The first 49% or so--although 'jumpy' (jumped around here and there too much)--was actually interesting and somewhat insightful. I was interested in this book mainly because I have a relative who is bipolar. But as is the case with many illnesses it is different for everyone and the book was about a much more severe case. Still I was intrigued until the sad suicide. After that the book was simply a self-serving monologue of the survival of the mother (the author) after her son's suicide. I kept...more
This book is a huge disappointment. I honestly wanted to quit reading about 34% of the way through but stuck it out hoping something would redeem it. My father died by suicide when I was 19 and the pain and grief are enormous. However, the "stoic mother" is ridiculous. It's plastic, unrealistic and her "coping" was just becoming as obsessive as her son had been about his things. Most people don't have the money to do all the big things they did to transform their house, donate, create memorials,...more
Well, maybe coming from a Psychology background didn't help me liking this book. But actually I think the reason I didn't enjoy it is because she still has a lot of anger and hatred even after all these years and she puts a lot of blame on others. He had a mental illness-and a serious one, it is not the girlfriend's fault, or her husbands fault. Also a sad read because even though she says she is Jewish, she doesn't believe in God, Heaven, or Hell so now her son just doesn't exist. I guess I was...more
Crystal Otto
Book Review – Leaving the Hall Light On by Madeline Sharples
Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
I recently had the honor of reading a touching memoir written by a loving mother who lost her son to mental illness and suicide. Had I not come to know Madeline prior to reading Leaving the Hall Light On, I quite honestly might not have read the memoir at all. I prefer movies and books that are filled with love and laughter. The first few pages of Sharples memoir describe the way her son, Paul, ended hi...more
Vine Leaves Literary Journal
Leaving the Hall Light On begins with, “…my twenty-seven-year old son Paul…entered his bathroom, and closed and locked the door behind him…Using a box cutter, he slashed both of his wrists. Then he slashed his throat and bled out into the tub.” This opening speaks for itself; from the start, Sharples makes the decision to show the reader just how intense this book will be. You, the reader, then choose whether to enter this world or not. The repercussions of Paul’s choice and the impact his actio...more
It was a very good book, just maybe a tad bit to long for what it was. It was a very good read though. I enjoyed it a lot.
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Although Madeline Sharples worked 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 to 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 dre...more
More about Madeline Sharples...
Poetry Pact 2011 Blue Collar Women

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“Nearly every writer writes a book with a great amount of attention and intention and hopes and dreams. And it's important to take that effort seriously and to recognize that a book may have taken ten years of a writer's life, that the writer has put heart and soul into it. And it behooves us, as book-review-editors, to treat those books with the care and attention they deserve, and to give the writer that respect."
Pamela Paul, New York Times Book Review editor, in a Poets & Writer's interview
(something for all reviewers to think about)”
“Way I was walking I was thinking I was running I was sinking You were laughing You were loving I was pushing I was shoving If you’re wondering How I’m feeling Same old thing I ain’t healing If you’re hungry I can feed you Please don’t think That I don’t need you And I let you walk away… Now you can go your own way.” 0 likes
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