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Submitted Literature

Hurry Down Sunshine

By Michael Greenberg


Michael Greenberg tell us with restrained emotion in this autobiographical story his experiences whit his adolescent daughter, Sally, from her first psychotic crisis, the diagnostic with bipolar affective disorder and the admission in the psychiatry department in a hospital. Michael Greenbeerg is writer, columnist in different newspapers of New York and scriptwriter. In this his first book, Greenberg alternates deep personal reflections about the meanings of the illness with descriptions of psychiatric services journey and his familiar situation. 


Amongst different dimensions of “Hurry Down Sunshine” I emphasizes the following themes:


-         Narration of the first psychotic crisis of Sally

-         It’s very interesting the process of seeking of meanings that make sense the illness and the negotiation process with the family to find causes which can explain it.

-         Deep description of the stay of Sally in the psychiatric department and the health professional roles. The reflections of Greenberg about psychiatric world are situated between two dimensions: the moral character of the social control that professionals practise and the ignorance about the real causes and subjective meanings of mental illness.

-         Greenberg asks often himselves about the relation between madness and creativity. Specially, an episode of the novel reflects therapeutic power of art and its capacity to make sense to the most painful experiences.

-         Afterwards Sally leaves the hospital, the book shows the difficulties to tackle social tasks like back to school and the fear of stigma related to mental illness.


In summary, the book reflects efficiently the fear, the impotence and the efforts of a father of middle class with high cultural level to cope with an illness that has transformed his daughter in other person.


It’s possible to see an interesting video of Michael Greenberg explaining the book in You Tube:

Key Themes:

  • Bipolar Affective Disorder

Significant Quotes / Pages

31-“With each question I wait for an answer, the slightest indication of break of the possible spell that dominates her and she returns to be the girl who I know. Every time, nevertheless, her change of character is reaffirmed. It is like if the authentic Sally would have been kidnapped and in her place there would be a demon, like the one of Salomón, that had appropriate of her body. The old superstition of the possession! How it’s possible to understand this grotesque transformation in other way?”


68- “There are not signs of illness in the psychiatric ward…  nor oxygen tanks neither plasma bags, no cardiac monitors, no surgical bandage. The symptoms are experienced like intimate secrets; the causes are elusive; the cures, unknown.”  


103- “But the psychosis challenges the empathy; few persons who did not closely experience the psychosis accept the idea of a behaviour illness. It sounds like an excuse, a permission to be lost in thought in the most exaggerated scale. When Erick [a friend of Michael Greenberg] calls somebody as “mad”, he wants to mean uninhibited, rebel, creative. It’s a kind of praise.”

Reference: Michael, Greenberg. 2008. Hurry Down Sunshine. Other Press, LLC, 2008


Mr Javier Saavedra
Date Review Submitted: Monday 13th April 2009