This a book that crosses many boundaries and incorporates multiple mediums and practices—psychology, memoir, poetry, and photography. By organizing and structuring these events in the form of a narrative, Sharples is able to try to make sense of a tumultuous time in her family’s life. A mother’s elegy to her dead son, she invites you into the human psyche, into the depths of her pain, her self. And as is the case for countless other writers, taking the reader to the deepest part of her humanity, the act of creating something out of pain is therapeutic. Sharples is able to write herself out of grief, loss, horror, misunderstanding, frustration; she is able to live, to survive.
Our understanding of bipolar disorder is always changing. We now have a better comprehension of what individuals like Paul deal with on an every day basis. The reader is made painfully aware of this as s/he navigate the antiquated vocabulary of manic to bipolar. As a mother whose son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Sharples has the reader understand that medications changed within Paul’s lifetime and continued changing well after. What doctors believed worked then, they know does not work today.
This is a story of loss that will transform you and change the way you look at the world. You heart will ache for Paul and all those he hurt and loved. But in the end, with the aid of his mother, understanding and perspective dawns in ways you never thought possible.