Title: Lisa, Bright and Dark
Author: John Neufeld
Disability: Mental Illness
1st Date Published: 1969
1st Publisher: S. G. Phillips, Inc.
2nd Date Published: 1999
2nd Publisher: Puffin Books
Lisa, Bright and Dark is a story that chronicles the life of Lisa Shilling's descent
into mental illness. Lisa is a sixteen-year-old high school student who is convinced that
she is losing her mind. Some days are "light," and she feels like everything is normal.
Other days are "dark," and she withdraws from the world and herself. Her teachers
ignore what is happening while her parents deny it. Lisa's three friends, M.N., Elizabeth,
and Betsy, are the only ones who are willing to get involved and walk with her where no
adults are willing to go. They are very determined to save Lisa and will stop at nothing
to do so. Although this is a tragic tale of a young girl's downhill spiral, it is also a very
touching story of compassion and friendship.
Lisa, Bright and Dark promotes empathy rather than pity. Narrated by Lisa's
friend, Betsy Goodman, you really begin to understand just how much Lisa's friends care
about her. The three girls all show sympathy and compassion for Lisa, and as a reader
you too begin to care about her and her situation. Rather than just feel sorry for Lisa, her
trio of friends try to understand her and get her through her trying time as best as they
can. Although the girls cannot give Lisa all of the help she needs, their determination to
save her is touching and will likely make the reader wish she had those same friends.
I think that this book did portray Lisa with a mental disability in realistic terms.
They never really said exactly what her mental disability was, but it...