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Lisa, Bright and Dark

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Lisa Shilling is 16, smart, attractive—and she is losing her mind. Some days are light, and everything is normal; during her dark days, she hides deep within herself, and nothing can reach her. Her teachers ignore what is happening. Her parents deny it. Lisa's friends are the only ones who are listening—and they walk with her where adults fear to tread. This classic novel Lisa Shilling is 16, smart, attractive—and she is losing her mind. Some days are light, and everything is normal; during her dark days, she hides deep within herself, and nothing can reach her. Her teachers ignore what is happening. Her parents deny it. Lisa's friends are the only ones who are listening—and they walk with her where adults fear to tread. This classic novel of a teenager's descent into madness, in the tradition of Go Ask Alice and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, has remained a best seller for close to thirty years.


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Lisa Shilling is 16, smart, attractive—and she is losing her mind. Some days are light, and everything is normal; during her dark days, she hides deep within herself, and nothing can reach her. Her teachers ignore what is happening. Her parents deny it. Lisa's friends are the only ones who are listening—and they walk with her where adults fear to tread. This classic novel Lisa Shilling is 16, smart, attractive—and she is losing her mind. Some days are light, and everything is normal; during her dark days, she hides deep within herself, and nothing can reach her. Her teachers ignore what is happening. Her parents deny it. Lisa's friends are the only ones who are listening—and they walk with her where adults fear to tread. This classic novel of a teenager's descent into madness, in the tradition of Go Ask Alice and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, has remained a best seller for close to thirty years.

30 review for Lisa, Bright and Dark

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bren

    "daddy, I think I'm going crazy". Mary Nell looked up astonished. "Oh Mr. shilling said. "Why is that?" "I can't tell you", Lisa said. "I just think it's true. And I'm frightened." Lisa, Bright and Dark by John Neufeld Possible triggers..Mental Illness, attempted suicide. My Review: This book is described by critics as "a work of art" and it is. I first read this as a child and have reread through the years. It remains just as great a read now as then. This book was way ahead of it's time as there was "daddy, I think I'm going crazy". Mary Nell looked up astonished. "Oh Mr. shilling said. "Why is that?" "I can't tell you", Lisa said. "I just think it's true. And I'm frightened." Lisa, Bright and Dark by John Neufeld Possible triggers..Mental Illness, attempted suicide. My Review: This book is described by critics as "a work of art" and it is. I first read this as a child and have reread through the years. It remains just as great a read now as then. This book was way ahead of it's time as there was not much YA about mental illness. Of coarse times have changed and we know much more then we did then but the book ages well and this story of one young woman's tragic illness and her band of loving and loyal friends who go all in to help her remains a magnificent and important read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I first picked up this book when I was a teenager for no other reason than...yes, she shares my name. When I read the back and discovered it's plot, about a girl that is psychologically troubled, to put it mildly, I was hooked. I've always been interested in stories where the character has a serious illness or problems. I've read countless books about girls with cancer, girls who have drug problems, girls who've been raped, and like 3 where the girl had cancer. Depressing, I know. I first picked up this book when I was a teenager for no other reason than...yes, she shares my name. When I read the back and discovered it's plot, about a girl that is psychologically troubled, to put it mildly, I was hooked. I've always been interested in stories where the character has a serious illness or problems. I've read countless books about girls with cancer, girls who have drug problems, girls who've been raped, and like 3 where the girl had cancer. Depressing, I know.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Sixteen year old Lisa is calling for help but no adult is willing to help her so her friends come to her rescue. They become her therapists and the story takes off. This book was written in 1969, so as a reader you have to consider the circumstances and the characters do the best they can to be the therapists that Lisa needs. They rely upon books and encyclopedias but things start to get out of control and these therapists are over their heads. They know they can’t give up because they are her o Sixteen year old Lisa is calling for help but no adult is willing to help her so her friends come to her rescue. They become her therapists and the story takes off. This book was written in 1969, so as a reader you have to consider the circumstances and the characters do the best they can to be the therapists that Lisa needs. They rely upon books and encyclopedias but things start to get out of control and these therapists are over their heads. They know they can’t give up because they are her only hope but Lisa’s mental illness is getting worse and she needs professional help. The book is told through the eyes of one of Lisa’s best friend, Betsy and we feel the emotions and the story unfold as the friends draw together towards a common goal. It’s about the commitment of friends, who don’t give up and don’t judge each other but it’s also about listening. I mean really listening……when someone is trying to reach out. When someone is trying to connect to you, are you listening? Do you hear what they are saying? Are you willing to hear what they are saying, even if you don’t like what they are saying?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Meh. Lots of novels from the 1960's and 1970's hold up, albeit in a nostalgic and kitschy way. This one most definitely did not though. Everything about it was ridiculous, from Lisa's manifestation of mental illness, to her friends, to the adults to the writing. Speaking of which, the writing was all tell and absolutely no show. If this had ever been made into a cheesy movie, that is a movie I would absolutely love to see. But the novel version is simply bad and painful beyond words. Skip this o Meh. Lots of novels from the 1960's and 1970's hold up, albeit in a nostalgic and kitschy way. This one most definitely did not though. Everything about it was ridiculous, from Lisa's manifestation of mental illness, to her friends, to the adults to the writing. Speaking of which, the writing was all tell and absolutely no show. If this had ever been made into a cheesy movie, that is a movie I would absolutely love to see. But the novel version is simply bad and painful beyond words. Skip this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Larissa

    Lisa Shilling is an attractive, smart, and friendly girl from a comfortably middle class family in a small town in New York. She's dating the most popular boy in her highschool, has lots of friends, and seems to have everything. But midway through her junior year of highschool, Lisa begins to notice that something is wrong. She's hearing voices, feeling isolated, has unpredictable mood swings and lashes out at her friends. She develops a cruel sense of humor, disappears from places unexpectedly, Lisa Shilling is an attractive, smart, and friendly girl from a comfortably middle class family in a small town in New York. She's dating the most popular boy in her highschool, has lots of friends, and seems to have everything. But midway through her junior year of highschool, Lisa begins to notice that something is wrong. She's hearing voices, feeling isolated, has unpredictable mood swings and lashes out at her friends. She develops a cruel sense of humor, disappears from places unexpectedly, and even occasionally takes on an English accent and persona. And though her peers and close friends realize that something is wrong with Lisa, the adults in her life either pretend that nothing unusual is happening or refuse to take action. So three of Lisa's friends take it upon themselves to buoy her up as best they can until they can convince an adult that Lisa isn't acting out or faking it--she really does need professional help. Lisa, Bright and Dark posits itself not only about a teen's battle with mental illness, but also a sort of parable about the callousness and lack of responsibility that adults often take when dealing with young people. This is emphasized not only through Lisa's neglectful parents, but also the counselor and teachers at her high school, who see that something is terribly wrong with one of their students, but are afraid of incurring the anger of her parents--of "interfering" with the way they raise their children. While certainly adults are often guilty of turning a blind eye to the problems and issues that their kids are going through--refusing to believe that their teens could be having sex, experimenting with drugs, etc.--I wonder if this book reflects attitudes that are still socially acceptable. It's my feeling that if teachers, clergy members, and friends all noticed that a teen they knew was having mental health problems, a myriad of counselors and resources would be provided for her, even if the parents didn't fully cooperate. It seems to me that it is now much more socially acceptable--and even socially mandated--to get involved when a teen shows signs of mental distress. The fact that the book is narrated by one of Lisa's less good friends, Betsy, works very well. Not only does Betsy's bubbly voice balance out the harshness of Lisa's story (peppered as it is with tangents about Paul Newman's dreamy eyes, movie factoids, and high school social commentary), but it also provides a realistic window onto Lisa's situation. It allows the reader to observe someone who is slowly descending into mental illness from an external point of view. This is probably a more empathetic position for most teens, but also makes the reader think about their own responsibilities to their friends and peers and the ways in which she might seek out help for a friend in a similar situation.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scribblegirl

    Not impressed. Several things bugged me about this, primarily the complete lack of realism. In 1969, if a student had a complete breakdown on schoolgrounds, a lot more would have happened than this book would have you believe. It also portrays mental health professionals in a way I find unbelievable and expects me to accept that a hospital would just give out the intimate details of a patient's condition and diagnosis to anyone who called or dropped by, even if that person had zero connection to Not impressed. Several things bugged me about this, primarily the complete lack of realism. In 1969, if a student had a complete breakdown on schoolgrounds, a lot more would have happened than this book would have you believe. It also portrays mental health professionals in a way I find unbelievable and expects me to accept that a hospital would just give out the intimate details of a patient's condition and diagnosis to anyone who called or dropped by, even if that person had zero connection to the patient. Uh, NO. I was also really set back by Neufeld's cavalier use of the word "rape." He then immediately explained it by saying it also means "to seize," so it's okay to say. REALLY? If that were true, you wouldn't have to explain it in the very next sentence. The fact that you did shows you were aware it was an offensive word to use, and you should have chosen a different one. Like say, oh, I don't know, SEIZE. Basically, I'm just not at all impressed with Neufeld or his book, which never really says what Lisa is suffering from, and just sort of vaguely talks about her problem. Better books have been written about characters suffering from mental instability, and this one is really just too dated and watered down.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I read this book in 8th grade, taught it to 10th graders who loved it, and now have just finished re-reading it some 23 years after having taught it. There are things about the book which I did not get the first times I read it, that really deeply sit with me now. I'm amazed at how 3 teens could take on the huge problem of mental illness in an effort to help their clearly sick friend. Maybe this isn't realistic to some, but it seems to be what teens have always done. I was really irked at the sc I read this book in 8th grade, taught it to 10th graders who loved it, and now have just finished re-reading it some 23 years after having taught it. There are things about the book which I did not get the first times I read it, that really deeply sit with me now. I'm amazed at how 3 teens could take on the huge problem of mental illness in an effort to help their clearly sick friend. Maybe this isn't realistic to some, but it seems to be what teens have always done. I was really irked at the school counselor being so ineffective and "scared" of Lisa's parents. I was even more angry at the parents who were in denial, thought their daughter was into a fad of mental illness, and refused to listen to anyone even after Lisa's apparently suicide. And YET I know such parents exist and even haunt the schools with their "appearance is the most important" and "how dare you" attitudes and do indeed shoo away any well-wishers. You would hope that things would be better today but I'm not sure how they are. This story is set in the 1960's when mental illness was a to be kept secret and hidden. The various cultural and pop references should probably have footnotes now or be topics for research among the younger readers. I admire Betsy, Mary Nell, and Elizabeth for listening and hearing Lisa's cries for help and though the adults are right that they are getting in over their heads, it shows they care and will do what it takes for a friend in need. I know that TODAY the teachers would not be ostriches or so careful, but I can believe the teachers of the late '60's probably did ignore or just let it be as much as possible. I think the novel reflects the time of its writing and setting accurately and has to be taken within that context. Is it a good YA book for today's teens? I think if it is taught or read together with someone who can explain some things it is good. The themes of the book are very relevant to today. This book is in some senses timeless just as the Bell Jar and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and Girl Interrupted are for the time periods they portray. I think the book is also an excellent way to open up discussion of mental illness and how to talk to those who are mentally ill. WE get from this novel that Lisa appreciates Betsy's honesty and the efforts of her friends and WANTS help. So as a dialogue starter this book has a lot to offer. I was surprised to see it is still in print as when I taught it, it had just gone out of print and I got the last 8 copies available. I'm reading my copy from 8th...it has held up pretty well. I do recommend this book overall.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    When I first picked up this book in Jr. High, it instantly became one of my favorites. So when I saw it at a used book store, I had to get it because I remembered loving it. I enjoyed it again, but after reading it this time around I realized how outdated the story really is. I guess just didn't notice this when I first read it, but now it was something that constantly bothered me. The characters were not really like teens today, and I am so accustomed to reading YA books that portray teens like When I first picked up this book in Jr. High, it instantly became one of my favorites. So when I saw it at a used book store, I had to get it because I remembered loving it. I enjoyed it again, but after reading it this time around I realized how outdated the story really is. I guess just didn't notice this when I first read it, but now it was something that constantly bothered me. The characters were not really like teens today, and I am so accustomed to reading YA books that portray teens like they presently are, that reading this sort of threw me off a bit. Other than that though, I really love the story. I think it would've been a bit more interesting if it was from Lisa's point of view, but I'm not sure how that could've worked. Instead, we see everything that happens to Lisa from an aquaintance who gets a bit more involved as the story unfolds. Although I want to say I recommend this book to everyone, I'm not too sure if many YA readers will like it because it was written for teens in the late sixties. So, it makes it a bit harder to really connect with the characters and enjoy the story. In my opinion, it is still a great book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Johnston

    A quick and entirely outdated read with several glaring issues. The narrative is not only 99% told to you (rather than shown you) but the narrator, Betsy, is incredibly distracting. From literally beginning to end she either thinks about Lisa or boys (really, Neufeld?), and her bubbly personality makes her an odd choice to engage with such otherwise intense subject matter. Plus, the engagement with mental health itself is clunky, one-dimensional, and feeds into numerous stereotypes. Lisa is esse A quick and entirely outdated read with several glaring issues. The narrative is not only 99% told to you (rather than shown you) but the narrator, Betsy, is incredibly distracting. From literally beginning to end she either thinks about Lisa or boys (really, Neufeld?), and her bubbly personality makes her an odd choice to engage with such otherwise intense subject matter. Plus, the engagement with mental health itself is clunky, one-dimensional, and feeds into numerous stereotypes. Lisa is essentially more spectacle than human and a science experiment for her friends, as they observe her smiling and laughing on "good" days and literally wearing black clothes and eyeliner on "bad" days. She embodies the "beautiful tragedy" trope so on the nose it hurts. This novel is nothing more than a touchpoint YA text of the 1960s. So if you're reading around for historical context or snapshots of the late-60s, it won't take you long, but otherwise don't waste your time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Burnett

    I read this book when I was in middle school...(ahem...1979.) I was fascinated with it, and continued to re-read it about 5 more times before I graduated high school. There was so much about Lisa that I identified with, and her story resonated with me in profound ways. I work in a library, and we don't carry this book. I've looked for it in every library I've been in across the country, and there are very few that do carry it, so I'm glad to see it available on Kindle. The writing is wonderful, I read this book when I was in middle school...(ahem...1979.) I was fascinated with it, and continued to re-read it about 5 more times before I graduated high school. There was so much about Lisa that I identified with, and her story resonated with me in profound ways. I work in a library, and we don't carry this book. I've looked for it in every library I've been in across the country, and there are very few that do carry it, so I'm glad to see it available on Kindle. The writing is wonderful, and Neufeld understands teenage mental illness. When my daughter was a teenager (she is now 23) I tried to find it for her to read, but was unable to get my hands on a copy. Now, it's a little under her radar, but I hope she'll read it anyway. I want to re-read it, too.

  11. 5 out of 5

    René

    Read this as a kid--in junior high or high school. Was reminded of it the other day after spotting a similar book (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden) at a book exchange. It's pretty dark. But for some reason when I think of this book, I think of swimming at the wave pool in town. I read this book over a few days one summer when I was spending a lot of time at the pool. I distinctly remember coming home from the pool and reading this book with the smell of chlorine still in my nose ad the sting Read this as a kid--in junior high or high school. Was reminded of it the other day after spotting a similar book (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden) at a book exchange. It's pretty dark. But for some reason when I think of this book, I think of swimming at the wave pool in town. I read this book over a few days one summer when I was spending a lot of time at the pool. I distinctly remember coming home from the pool and reading this book with the smell of chlorine still in my nose ad the sting of it in my eyes and the sensation of treading water still "ghosting" in my legs. That and all the references to Paul Newman and Lisa banging her head into her bed headboard. Go figure.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mindy

    This was much better than I was expecting. Surprising that it's written by a man because it really reads like teenage girls. Even though this was written in the late 60's it holds up well, I think. The frustration that Lisa and her friends feel at the lack of concern for Lisa's mental state is the driving force of this book. It was hard not to get caught up in the ticking time bomb that was Lisa's mental state. The story wraps up a little too neatly but that's not surprising since this is YA, be This was much better than I was expecting. Surprising that it's written by a man because it really reads like teenage girls. Even though this was written in the late 60's it holds up well, I think. The frustration that Lisa and her friends feel at the lack of concern for Lisa's mental state is the driving force of this book. It was hard not to get caught up in the ticking time bomb that was Lisa's mental state. The story wraps up a little too neatly but that's not surprising since this is YA, before there even was YA.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    Lisa, Bright and Dark The book I reviewed is Lisa, Bright and Dark by John Neufeld. The book is a fiction/drama story and The theme is friendship. It’s about a sixteen-year-old girl losing her mind but nobody wants to believe her. She tried to tell her parents but they didn’t want to hear it. Lisa started to have two personalities. People in her school called it good and bad days or bright and dark days. On her bright days she would act normal. On Dark days she would wear dark clothing and n Lisa, Bright and Dark The book I reviewed is Lisa, Bright and Dark by John Neufeld. The book is a fiction/drama story and The theme is friendship. It’s about a sixteen-year-old girl losing her mind but nobody wants to believe her. She tried to tell her parents but they didn’t want to hear it. Lisa started to have two personalities. People in her school called it good and bad days or bright and dark days. On her bright days she would act normal. On Dark days she would wear dark clothing and not talk to anyone. Lisa’s best friend Mary Nell and her friend Betsey start to believe that she really is losing her mind, After Mary Nell caught her behind a teachers desk poking herself in the arm with a needle. Mary Nell wants to help her but doesn’t know how. Her plan was for her to talk to Lisa’s parents and Betsey talk to the guidance counselor, Mr.Berstein. Mary Nell went to go talk to her parents but when she tried Lisa’s parent’s response wasn’t good they got offended. Betsey went to go talk to Mr.Berstein, he didn’t want to have anything to do with telling Lisa’s parents that Lisa was going crazy because thy might think he was trying to them how to raise Lisa. Since no one wants to help her she decides that she’s help her herself. I felt so bad for Lisa no body wanted to believe her. This book was interesting and memorable because watching a friend going through an illness like that I can picture it can be heart breaking. This worst fact about this story is that it’s a real life event, that kind of situation happens everyday. My favorite scene in this book was when nobody would help Lisa but then Mary Nell decided that enough was enough and did what she had to do. The book was descriptive with the characters but not so much with the scenes. The most vivid characters were Lisa and Mary Nell. The part that confused me the most was when Lisa’s parents didn’t believe that she was losing her mind. Lisa’s best friend Mary Nell and the school staff have all tried to talk to her about it but her parents still didn’t want to believe it. They thought she was just going through a phase. This is a good book to recommend to teenagers my age because some people that have these types of problems are afraid to ask for help and this book is basically telling you its ok to ask. A book that is sort of like this is cut. I would recommend that to teenagers to because it is also about a girl going through a hard time but a little bit of a different situation.

  14. 4 out of 5

    ❤ArtfullySinful❤

    A very haunting, riveting, thought provoking novel about how illnesses can truly destroy somebody and be the crumbling foundation to all those surrounding them. Lisa Shilling, was only sixteen years old, when she began to lose her kind. When everything became a ticking clock, and once it reached zero, there'd be no stopping the consequences born to unfold. Sudden, uncontrollable bursts of violence, New personas of her, all with heavy, thick English accents and each one crueler than the last. It A very haunting, riveting, thought provoking novel about how illnesses can truly destroy somebody and be the crumbling foundation to all those surrounding them. Lisa Shilling, was only sixteen years old, when she began to lose her kind. When everything became a ticking clock, and once it reached zero, there'd be no stopping the consequences born to unfold. Sudden, uncontrollable bursts of violence, New personas of her, all with heavy, thick English accents and each one crueler than the last. It all began slowly, with subtly hints being causally dropped, before it all began crashing down. M.N. or better known as Mary Nell Ficket, Bestsy Goodman, and Elizabeth Frazer, would each take a vow to keep Lisa moving forward, even when the madness kept within her was pushing her beyond her breaking point. Gravitating towards Elizabeth, Lisa tried to shove all those who offered help aside. But after getting caught inhaling a needle through her wrist beneath Mr. Milne's desk in school, a visit to the school counselor seemed to of solved it all. Upon her parent's knowledge, neither of them believed Lisa's madness to be anything other than stress for exams and the end of the year, satisfied by sending her to Florida to recover for six weeks instead of getting her any kind o help. Once she returned, the girls begin making plans of secret therapy sessions for Lisa. M.N. getting so involved in every piece of literature, true feelings began losing focus in her mind. With the summer only weeks away, and each girl needing to leave, M.N to Ohio and Elizabeth to Maine, only so much more can be uncovered. After a brutal attack on Elizabeth, leaving the young girl bruised and battered, Lisa forces all of them to make a pledge to involve police if it happens again. When nobody could help her, she walks through a glass door, sending her first suicide attempt through her parent's mind after Betsy's father witnessed it. After this, Lisa turns to an overdose of Barbiturates, which leaves her in a hospital for several weeks as she recovered. As Elizabeth pulled some strings to get Lisa help, an old friend of her comes from upstate to lend some help to The madness Lisa faces. Dr. Donovan, a psychologists, tries to save Lisa, by finally getting her parents to see the pain only Tracy, Lisa's younger sister could seem to grasp. Moving her up to the "NutHouse" upstate, Lisa is finally receiving attention, and the girls are ready to spend the next seven months without her, and without each other.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Greta is Erikasbuddy

    I would have ended this book in a totally off the wall different way but for what its worth this was a good book. It was written back in 1969 and the copy I own was actually printed back then. YUP YUP! It was full of ferret typos and and even a couple of words that repeated themselves (I secretly love that). When we moved into our current house the previous owner left a pile of stuff here and out of that we got this book, a ton more, and nearly the entire Harry Potter series (SCORE!!) As for the I would have ended this book in a totally off the wall different way but for what its worth this was a good book. It was written back in 1969 and the copy I own was actually printed back then. YUP YUP! It was full of ferret typos and and even a couple of words that repeated themselves (I secretly love that). When we moved into our current house the previous owner left a pile of stuff here and out of that we got this book, a ton more, and nearly the entire Harry Potter series (SCORE!!) As for the book. Since I'm a sexist piggy... I really don't know if a dude was the best person to write about a 16 year old girl on the brink of insanity. I mean... what the cornballs? Was this dude studying like Patty Duke or something. I keep wanting to say the BRADY BUNCh but I don't think that was out in 69 but for real-does... MARSHA MARSHA MARSHA and Betsy's DAVEY JONES is PAUL NEWMAN. Who the heckles is Paul Newman (haha! Who wants to slap me?) It did make me very interested in a move that was mentioned --- Raintree County. The story mentions that movie (with Elizabeth Taylor in it) and they totally sold me on it. I actually went to my local libary (where I get most of my books from. Go cheap!!) to check it out but found out that they weren't releasing their vcr tapes until they put up shelves (yes... this is what they told me lolz!). So, I'll have to get it later. The book was pretty short but it was very entertaining. I would totally rec it to anyone who is just curious and really any girly over the age of 13. I don't know if a guy would dig it. i guess someone like my dad might but I don't think my son would. All in all.. it was a very nice book for that day and age. It really showed me how far books have come. This book was mainly dialogue when now adays everything has to be sooo descriptive. To tell the truth I have no clue what ANYONe smelled like ;)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maran Gorham

    This book is my favorite because it's a story about friends who help each other even in the most darkest of times. The main character Lisa who is known for being so lively and friendly begins to go mad and slowly starts to act bizarr. Peers in her school begin to torment her even though just months before they admired her and even strived to be her. Even though she reached out to her family like many times in a teenagers life they feel they aren't heard represented or given a voice even when the This book is my favorite because it's a story about friends who help each other even in the most darkest of times. The main character Lisa who is known for being so lively and friendly begins to go mad and slowly starts to act bizarr. Peers in her school begin to torment her even though just months before they admired her and even strived to be her. Even though she reached out to her family like many times in a teenagers life they feel they aren't heard represented or given a voice even when they need help despretly and for Lisa , she was lucky euogh to have support from her best friends even though none of them knew what would become if Lisa and her future ince they were able to finally convince her parents to send her to a specialist after multiple attempts of suicide and seldndestruction. Te power of the friendship even through the scary frighting changes they still stuck by her and it goes to show even when your at your lowest points true friends wount abandon you and may even help

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tin

    This book hits a note for me, not only because I read this while I was in labor with my first baby, but also because it's something I went through myself. Having depression isn't easy, and seeking help for your illness is even more difficult. What I would give to have friends like Lisa's: friends who genuinely care for you and are patient with you. Dealing with the highs and lows of depression can take a toll on your friends, especially when you somehow get violent. If truth be told, you can't h This book hits a note for me, not only because I read this while I was in labor with my first baby, but also because it's something I went through myself. Having depression isn't easy, and seeking help for your illness is even more difficult. What I would give to have friends like Lisa's: friends who genuinely care for you and are patient with you. Dealing with the highs and lows of depression can take a toll on your friends, especially when you somehow get violent. If truth be told, you can't help it, the violent outbursts. You can't just "snap out" of it. There's no reason for depression; it just is. It's a hormonal imbalance, not seeking attention. And it's definitely not something you "get over with" in just a few months. It could take years, and even if you do recover, there are relapses. Lisa's story is an inspiration to anyone who's gone through and is still going through mental illnesses. It's truly brave of Lisa to seek help. But it's braver for her friends to stand up for her and stick with her through the very end.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Afro Madonna

    Shit. This book was so damn beautiful. And dark. And HAUNTING. And oh so rightfully humorous in some. It took me to places, thoughts, bright and dark. I'll probably be left drifting in a Lisa, bright and dark hangover now. Sure won't forget about it anytime soon. It really touched and spoke to me. God bless you John Neufeld. :* Shit. This book was so damn beautiful. And dark. And HAUNTING. And oh so rightfully humorous in some. It took me to places, thoughts, bright and dark. I'll probably be left drifting in a Lisa, bright and dark hangover now. Sure won't forget about it anytime soon. It really touched and spoke to me. God bless you John Neufeld. :*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    Dated, obviously, but it feels very genuine and honest.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elise R

    Why didn't I find this book in high school? It's Judy Blume for the weirdo set. It reads a little bit dated, but still a universal idea. Why didn't I find this book in high school? It's Judy Blume for the weirdo set. It reads a little bit dated, but still a universal idea.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lesa

    This was one of the very first young adult/teen novels I ever read. I was in 7th grade. All these years later I remember it as touching me deeply.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy Lee

    This came out in 1969, when mental illness wasn't exactly a common topic of conversation - and I'm not sure it's a comfortable topic today. The book takes an interesting tack: a high school student knows she's not quite right, tries to tell her parents, but they don't believe her. Her friends try to help; ultimately even her teachers believe there is something wrong, but her parents continue to do nothing as her illness progresses and she continues to cry, and act, out for help. The book is defin This came out in 1969, when mental illness wasn't exactly a common topic of conversation - and I'm not sure it's a comfortable topic today. The book takes an interesting tack: a high school student knows she's not quite right, tries to tell her parents, but they don't believe her. Her friends try to help; ultimately even her teachers believe there is something wrong, but her parents continue to do nothing as her illness progresses and she continues to cry, and act, out for help. The book is definitely dated. The idea of teenagers attempting "amateur psychology" is quite frightening - today, in most states, if someone is deemed a danger to themselves or others, they can assessed by medical personnel regardless of age. And, again in most states, a lawyer/advocate is assigned to a patient immediately upon commitment, so the drastic action Lisa takes would be unnecessary - but in the 1960's, that wasn't the case. And the dating also works in Lisa's favor; in the United States, long term care for most mentally ill no longer exists. But any book, targeting the teen market in 1969, that talks about mental illness, has to get a little credit. This book became a movie broadcast on television in 1973, starring Anne Bancroft and John Forsythe as Lisa's parents, Kay Lenz as Lisa, and Deborah Lee Furness as MN. Like many others my age, I wasn't allowed to watch it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarai

    from Amazon: By Mr.Francesco Raphael Galardo of the Catskills Lisa Shilling is experiencing mental problems of which seem to put her as an outcast at school. Some of her closest friends, Mary Nell, Betsy and Elizabeth realize that there is a problem. They seek to find answers in their own "group therapy" everyday after school. Although the students see that Lisa has a problem, Lisa's parents deny the facts that are given to them. Through out the book Lisa makes situations worse just to try to pro from Amazon: By Mr.Francesco Raphael Galardo of the Catskills Lisa Shilling is experiencing mental problems of which seem to put her as an outcast at school. Some of her closest friends, Mary Nell, Betsy and Elizabeth realize that there is a problem. They seek to find answers in their own "group therapy" everyday after school. Although the students see that Lisa has a problem, Lisa's parents deny the facts that are given to them. Through out the book Lisa makes situations worse just to try to prove it to her parents that she needs help. ...Lisa's parents finally give in to the problem after Lisa hurts herself another time. They agree to seek help and things start to turn around for the better. I read this as a young adult, I think when I was in middle school, and the one thing I remember the most is a scene toward the end, the scene that finally gets Lisa's parents to pay attention to her mental illness and cries for help. It was not so much the thing she did as the way the author wrote it - the imagery was so strong that I could see exactly what was happening and it really stuck in my mind, for all these years afterward. I liked the book, however, I read it many years ago. Here is a differing point of view from the website MentalHelp.net: Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Nov 26th 2001 Now 32 years old, Lisa, Bright and Dark, a novel about a girl's mental illness, aimed at younger readers, has not aged well. Teen readers will probably be mystified by references to Simon and Garfunkel, Sly and the Family Stone, the Doors, The Graduate, Sudddenly, Last Summer, and Hair. They will find it hard to believe that anyone every really used the exclamations and adjectives "groovy," "bull," "screwy," and "Zowee!" But more than these superficial barriers, they will probably not recognize the kind of health care system portrayed in the book. Lisa is a disturbed teen, whose parents will not listen to her. In apparent efforts to get the attention of others, her behavior becomes increasingly bizarre.... Her friends have all sorts of theories about what Lisa's problem is, and Mary Nell reads up on textbook psychiatry, coming up with a theory of paranoid schizophrenia. Lisa does seem to hear voices, sometimes she talks in different voices too, she does not sleep and she gets very angry at inappropriate times. Betsy, M.N. and Elizabeth, all teen girls in the same grade as Lisa, join together to help their friend. They go to the school counselor, who is not much help. They go to their parents, but are fobbed off. They try to talk with Lisa and give her a group of people with whom she can feel safe. Eventually things get serious enough for adults to start paying attention, and a therapist of one of the girls comes to the rescue. These children appear to be from wealthy families where the father goes out to work and the mother keeps house. Alcohol, drugs, school violence and guns are not mentioned as problems at all, and there's one brief mention of teen pregnancy. Presumably if a girl had serious psychiatric problems these days, she would either end up in the emergency room of a local hospital, she would make an appointment at a community mental health center, she might join a group of other troubled teens for some kind of therapy, or she would have enter into the maze of managed care treatment. It's very likely that she would early on receive a prescription for some medication, such as an anti-anxiety drug or an antidepressant. In this novel, Lisa is first sent to a rest home mainly for old people and at the end she goes in for an extended hospitalization of six months or more. Of course, these days the only long-stay psychiatric hospitals left are for those with the most untreatable conditions, and most of the hospitals to which Lisa might have been sent in the late 1960s have been closed down for decades. So the world has changed a great deal since when this book was first released. It is more useful as a historical document than as a guide about what to do if one of your friends has a serious mental disorder. Maybe the one feature that remains relevant today is the value of remaining open and friendly to someone with a mental illness, even if she behaves bizarrely and does not make any sense.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Fantastic book! Mental illness is something of a stigma now, but it was far worse in the 70s. Lisa, Bright and Dark portrays a teenager descending into severe mental illness, while her parents either ignore her or scoff at her cries for help. Only her three friends see what's happening, and try to help her. I loved this book when I first read it in the 70s. Perhaps I saw a bit of myself in Lisa. Fantastic book! Mental illness is something of a stigma now, but it was far worse in the 70s. Lisa, Bright and Dark portrays a teenager descending into severe mental illness, while her parents either ignore her or scoff at her cries for help. Only her three friends see what's happening, and try to help her. I loved this book when I first read it in the 70s. Perhaps I saw a bit of myself in Lisa.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I really wanted to like this book. The premise, a young woman descending into madness and unable to find help among the adults meant to protect her, was very intriguing to me. However, the book ended up being very lacking in action and character. Lisa is a bright and popular girl in high school when she begins to recognize that she is ill and needs help. Her parents refuse to believe the severity of her situation, even after an incident at school where she is discovered puncturing her skin with a I really wanted to like this book. The premise, a young woman descending into madness and unable to find help among the adults meant to protect her, was very intriguing to me. However, the book ended up being very lacking in action and character. Lisa is a bright and popular girl in high school when she begins to recognize that she is ill and needs help. Her parents refuse to believe the severity of her situation, even after an incident at school where she is discovered puncturing her skin with a needle and muttering to herself. As a reader, I’m not sure I would have believed she was so desperate for help either. Lisa has bright days, where she is her normal outgoing and happy self, and dark days, which you are lead to believe are terrifying and demonstrate Lisa’s descent into madness. Instead her dark days read more like normal teenage exploration into self, where she comes out little more than “goth” or “emo”, but far from dangerous, depressed, or insane. Her friends try to help, but by the narrator’s own admission, they do little more than hang out with her and discuss normal teenage topics (e.g. Paul Newman and sex). There are only three events (including the one mentioned above) that suggest Lisa has greater problems, one of which finally gets her the help she needs. And these three events are thrown at you as a reader, rather than slowly revealed to you to accept (or reject) at your own pace. I finished this book feeling that the author had chosen not to trust me, and my ability to empathize, before he even began writing. It was as though he had decided I was incapable of imagining what Lisa might be experiencing, so he could only tell me, in explicit terms. The result being that my experience was more like reading a case-study, written by a very inexperienced psychology student, when what I wanted was to descend into madness with Lisa and find the rescue we both so desperately needed.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    My new library has a coffee shop and a rack of free-read-and-return books outside the main doors, which is very convenient when you accidentally show up almost an hour too early without anything to do. I chose this one because it was (1) short enough to finish in one sitting (2) a vaguely familiar title and (3) not a romance novel. There were some excellent bits of humor and some truly chilling moments. And it's a good story to tell -- a young girl begins suffering from some form of bipolar schi My new library has a coffee shop and a rack of free-read-and-return books outside the main doors, which is very convenient when you accidentally show up almost an hour too early without anything to do. I chose this one because it was (1) short enough to finish in one sitting (2) a vaguely familiar title and (3) not a romance novel. There were some excellent bits of humor and some truly chilling moments. And it's a good story to tell -- a young girl begins suffering from some form of bipolar schizophrenia and her friends try to step in when the adults ignore her cries for help. But... Unfortunately the writing and voice weren't as compelling as they could have been. Then again, I wasn't alive in the 60s, so for all I know teens really did talk like stodgy adults ("How we all hope so!" "Dear heart, his eyes!") when they weren't proving their teen-hood by throwing in slang like "groovy" and "Zowee!" or awkwardly over-explaining things ("Brian and I locked eyes. Eye-contact, we call it: E.C."). Some of the "creative" descriptions were confusing as well. What exactly does a "C-shaped" person look like? Does that just mean they have a round stomach viewed from the side, or are they a hunchback with... turned up toes? I also think it would have helped if I'd recognized more than half of the actors and actresses that the narrator talked about obsessively, but to be fair it's hard to write a novel that both references pop-culture and ages well. I was also really thrown by the ending. The resolution of the main plot worked for the most part, but the "here's where my life is headed now" final sentences felt really trivial and bizarre. But it did capture some important concepts and moments and probably helped blaze a trail for many of the better-done contemporary YA novels dealing with difficult issues, so good on Lisa and Neufeld.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I am in awe of how much I hated this book. Neufeld cannot write women - the main character's thoughts about her friends are constantly interspersed with that of boys, even when it isn't relevant to the plot. It's fine for women to want to settle down and have kids, but that's all the narrator is defined by in the story. All she wants is a man, and she has no other characteristics. She is misogynistically written to the point that she could never pass for a person - both in the way she talks, the I am in awe of how much I hated this book. Neufeld cannot write women - the main character's thoughts about her friends are constantly interspersed with that of boys, even when it isn't relevant to the plot. It's fine for women to want to settle down and have kids, but that's all the narrator is defined by in the story. All she wants is a man, and she has no other characteristics. She is misogynistically written to the point that she could never pass for a person - both in the way she talks, the way her character is developed, and so on. I also think the book should not have been told from her perspective - the introduction was super confusing not knowing who the characters were, and telling a story of mental illness from a neurotypical point of view came off as very privileged. The book ends with (view spoiler)[the narrator thinking about how she can woo more men, with only a line or two about Lisa's rehabilitation (hide spoiler)] . The book is primarily about Lisa's mental illness and her struggle to recover, but it's told through the lens of someone who doesn't really get it, and at times, doesn't really care. It's like trying to get the news from someone who skimmed today's paper - you only get half the story, and it isn't told correctly. I get parts of the book, mostly because I grew up in a friend group with multiple mentally ill people in it, and I remember the struggle of trying to be taken seriously as a minor. But altogether, the novel was immaturely written and does not hold up at all today. There are many other better books you could find that deal with mental health.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emma Rategan

    This book was probably very good, and perhaps even revolutionary, in its time (it was published in 1969). In 2018, this book feels extraordinarily dated and just plain strange. I'm not a huge fan of "cure" novels and *spoiler alert* when Lisa (who has some unidentified illness, most likely bipolar disorder) goes away to a mental hospital, her friends are assured that Lisa will come back and be just like she was before the "terrible thing" (her illness) began. I did feel like this book was enjoya This book was probably very good, and perhaps even revolutionary, in its time (it was published in 1969). In 2018, this book feels extraordinarily dated and just plain strange. I'm not a huge fan of "cure" novels and *spoiler alert* when Lisa (who has some unidentified illness, most likely bipolar disorder) goes away to a mental hospital, her friends are assured that Lisa will come back and be just like she was before the "terrible thing" (her illness) began. I did feel like this book was enjoyable to read, and like I said, if read in the proper context, it was probably a big step forward for mental health, but ultimately, this one fell a little flat for me.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Macco Dreher

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Lisa, Bright and Dark, written by John Neufeld, was a book about a girl named Lisa who was suffering from multiple personality disorder. Since Lisa's parents and the school refused to get Lisa help, her three closest friends set out to try to learn about and administer psychotherapy to help her. After half way through the book, you know all you need to guess the 'most predictable' ending, and the book ends just like you thought. I didn't like it, because I don't like predictable books. I wouldn' Lisa, Bright and Dark, written by John Neufeld, was a book about a girl named Lisa who was suffering from multiple personality disorder. Since Lisa's parents and the school refused to get Lisa help, her three closest friends set out to try to learn about and administer psychotherapy to help her. After half way through the book, you know all you need to guess the 'most predictable' ending, and the book ends just like you thought. I didn't like it, because I don't like predictable books. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you like following a very traditional plot.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tlingit

    I read this as a teen before Go Ask Alice and before I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. It wasn't as bad as GAA but is wasn't as "good" as INPYARG. Honestly it sounded contrived to me back then. I had friends but none of them were close enough to try to "solve" something serious and difficult as a mental illness. And if you've ever had any experience with having a mental illness you'd know that it's not going to be solved within a novelette's amount of time. This book is more like a serious epi I read this as a teen before Go Ask Alice and before I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. It wasn't as bad as GAA but is wasn't as "good" as INPYARG. Honestly it sounded contrived to me back then. I had friends but none of them were close enough to try to "solve" something serious and difficult as a mental illness. And if you've ever had any experience with having a mental illness you'd know that it's not going to be solved within a novelette's amount of time. This book is more like a serious episode of Encyclopedia Brown. It tries to convey how serious a mental illness is while tempering it with Hollywood Hope for a girl who has no history with abuse, trauma or crisis but has ample peer support. In the real world kids with mental illnesses rarely have one friend never mind a pod of friends that survive to teenage-hood. And usually they turn in so much so that communication becomes difficult to convey. And the reaching out most likely has been happening all along and been rebuffed so much that despair sets in and the adolescent stops believing that any help will come. Is it really hard to write that story, or is that just so negative that no one wants to believe it and would rather be slurping the sop that is pumped out like most ChickLit series? Ugh.

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