Hurry Down Sunshine (Paperback)

A Father's Story of Love and Madness

By Michael Greenberg

Other Press, 9781590519813, 256pp.

Publication Date: December 4, 2018

List Price: 15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

September 2008 Indie Next List

“A haunting memoir of a father and wife dealing with a daughter's sudden psychotic breakdown. Filled with brilliant imagery and the strain her illness brought to her family, this is an important book that will bring some element of understanding to such painful situations.”
— Amy Ellis, Front Street Books, Alpine, TX
View the List


This international bestseller is an extraordinary family story and an exceptionally powerful memoir about coping withbipolar disorder, now with a new afterword for the ten-year anniversary edition.

Michael Greenberg recounts in vivid detail the remarkable summer when, at the age of fifteen, his daughter was struck mad. It begins with Sally's sudden visionary crack-up on the streets of Greenwich Village, and continues, among other places, in the out-of-time world of a Manhattan psychiatric ward during the city's sweltering summer. It is a tale of a family broken open, then painstakingly, movingly stitched together again.

Greenberg's unforgettable cast of characters includes an unconventional psychiatrist, an Orthodox Jewish patient, a manic Classics professor, a movie producer, and a landlord with literary aspirations. Unsentimental, nuanced, and deeply humane, Hurry Down Sunshine is essential reading in the literature of affliction with such classics as
Girl, Interrupted and An Unquiet Mind.

About the Author

A native New Yorker, Michael Greenberg is the author of the memoir Hurry Down Sunshine, published in sixteen countries and chosen as one of the best books of 2008 by Time, the San Francisco Chronicle,, and Library Journal; and Beg, Borrow, Steal: A Writer's Life. His writing has appeared in such varied places as O, The Oprah Magazine and The New York Review of Books. He lives in New York.

Praise For Hurry Down Sunshine: A Father's Story of Love and Madness

Lucid, realistic, compassionate, illuminating…In its detail, depth, richness, and sheer intelligence, Hurry Down Sunshine will be recognized as a classic of its kind.”—Oliver Sacks, New York Review of Books

“Touching, warmly intimate, and unsparing…Like the best fiction, this memoir has transcended the merely particular and eccentric to constitute a kind of hard-won art. —Joyce Carol Oates, Times Literary Supplement.  

Hurry Down Sunshine is about tenacity and tenderness, feeling helpless but being present, about cracking up, then finding the wherewithal to glue the jagged pieces of your mind back together again. But mostly it’s about love.” —Oprah Winfrey, in her letter to readers in O, The Oprah Magazine

“Triumphant…Greenberg renders the details of his daughter’s breakdown with lyrical precision.” —The Washington Post

“A remarkable account.” The New York Times Book Review

“A finely observed memoir…written in delicately episodic style. Vivid.” —The Wall Street Journal

“A thoughtful and heartfelt tale.” —Entertainment Weekly

“There is a dancing, dazzling siren seductress at the heart of this book and…it is madness itself. The startling associative imagery that gives Greenberg’s writing its power is like a domesticated version of the madness that nearly carried away his daughter’s life.” —Time

“This memoir of a family crisis captures the grief that transformed their lives…readers come away with a sense of the intractable nature of psychosis and the courage it requires for patients like Sally, whose struggles continue, merely to live.” —People

Hurry Down Sunshine’s fundamental strength arises from Greenberg’s insistence on facing the demons that held his girl in their dark thrall. Sally’s descent and tentative return form the map for this story; Greenberg’s courage lies in his willingness to follow her down that terrible path, no matter where it leads.” —Bookforum

“Greenberg’s elegiac, beautifully crafted memoir chronicles the summer his teenaged daughter, Sally, lost her mind to madness. At times acutely painful, at times painfully funny, his story alternates between the progression of Sally’s bewildering, frightening decline and Greenberg’s own at times comically absurd experience as he simultaneously deals with a dependent brother suffering from his own demons; a difficult, obtuse wife; and a New Age ex-wife who, after each visit, offers cosmic explanations for her daughter’s condition before retreating to her home in the country.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Greenberg, a native New Yorker and columnist for the Times Literary Supplement, writes with unflinching honesty and heart. He brilliantly renders daily life in a Manhattan psych ward…The result is a startling piece of writing, by turns sobering and surreal.” —Booklist (starred review)
“An intense account of a young girl’s manic depression, told by her father in crystalline prose with searing intensity. Passionate and unforgettable.” —Shelf Awareness
“Greenberg’s erudite portrait of bipolar disease as experienced from both inside and out is dazzling…Bears enlightening and articulate witness to the sheer force of an oft-misunderstood disease.” —Kirkus Reviews

“In this powerful memoir, writer Michael Greenberg describes the terrifying summer his 15-year-old daughter, Sally, became a stranger to herself and to her father. In August 1996, the lively teenager became, almost overnight, manic and uncontrollable, unable to stop talking as words poured out. With spare, unemotional prose, Greenberg captures what it’s like to have a mentally ill child and the way the disease strips him of his sense of control over his daughter’s health.” —USA Today

Hurry Down Sunshine is artful, well-observed and brutally clear about the impact of bipolar disease on everyone it touches.” —Chicago Tribune 

“Greenberg writes with an emotional clarity that combines compassion for his daughter with a stark, almost pessimistic honesty. ”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“Greenberg deftly shows that sometimes the ones who bear the ‘stigma’ of a diagnosis can possess potent distillations of truth, while others who move about in the ‘real world’ seem to have only a marginal grasp on reality.” —The Seattle Times

“Greenberg write with precision and depth of almost unfathomable problems…Hurry Down Sunshine is emotionally honest and has an ability to dispense hope that a fictionalized account would not”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Beautifully written...The literary precedents Greenberg turns to are Joyce and Robert Lowell…There are echoes of Virginia Woolf, too...Sally’s psychiatrist calls...the mind falling in love with its delusions…‘the evil seduction’. But Greenberg can understand the impulse, and it’s this that gives Hurry Down Sunshine such power.” —The Guardian

“A story of almost mythic power. A compelling narrative about how one family coped with madness…tough and lyrical…Greenberg brings a true writer’s sensibility to every line.” —The Times 

“A moving, brutally self-examining and unsettling memoir.” —The Daily Mail 

“Greenberg writes beautifully. [He] is gratefully and minutely observant…his cast captivates.” —The Observer 

“The psychotic break of his fifteen-year-old daughter is the grit around which Michael Greenberg forms the pearl that is Hurry Down Sunshine. It is a brilliant, taut, entirely original study of a suffering child and a family and marriage under siege.” —Janet Malcolm, author of The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes and The Journalist and the Murderer

“One of the most gripping and disturbingly honest books I have ever read. The courage Michael Greenberg shows in narrating the story of his adolescent daughter’s descent into psychosis is matched by his acute understanding of how alone each of us is, sane or manic, in our processing of reality and our attempts to get others to appreciate what seems important to us. This is a remarkable memoir.” —Phillip Lopate, author of Two Marriages and Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan