When someone has a nearly "perfect" life, it's hard to believe that person could be going out of his or her mind. Lisa Bright and Dark, by John Neufeld, explores the world of mental illness through Lisa Shilling, a sixteen year old who believes she is going crazy. Though she and her friends know this, she is unable to receive help because her parents think she is making it up. With no adult help, the problem has to be taken into the hands of Lisa and her three teenage friends.
Lisa Shilling starts off as any normal teenager, attending school, going out with friends, and even dating. As the novel progresses, Lisa slips into dark, depressive moods on occasional days, and then into depression altogether. Lisa's friends notice her change and take it into their own hands to give her "therapy" because Lisa's parents are not willing to accept her sickness.
As the depression progresses, many frightening incidents happen, but Lisa's friends stick with her, helping to give strength to Lisa as well as themselves.
Lisa's friends stick with her when no one else will. One incident happened where Lisa went into an almost trance-like episode and then proceeded to attack one of her three friends. Even through the difficult times, Lisa's friends would not give up on her. The basic theme of friendship is expressed throughout the novel.
It is never told exactly what has caused Lisa Shilling to slip into this state of depression, which helps to make the atmosphere of the novel very mysterious. Just when it appears that Lisa is getting better, another episode occurs. The story is disturbing, being set around Lisa's school and home. With other characters in the story, such as Lisa's parents, causing conflicts with Lisa receiving proper treatment, the story is given a disturbing yet realistic feel.
Instead of the story being told from the main character's point of view, it is instead told by one of Lisa's three friends who is trying to help. This keeps the reader from being able to tell exactly what is going on in Lisa Shilling's head. Details in the novel are at times elaborate, but there are parts in the story where the writing style is very direct. All of these aspects make John Neufeld's writing style unique.
Lisa Bright and Dark is a disturbing but powerful look into the mind of mental illness. This would be a good story for anyone to read. It gives insight into the struggles of a common mental disorder, and what can happen when depression goes untreated.