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Lisa, Bright and Dark

Lisa, Bright and Dark - John Neufeld I had completely forgotten about this book, until I stumbled on a review of it here. Yes... this was assigned reading in eighth grade. I don't remember much, so I shouldn't write a big review as if I do. For all I know, it's well written... but considering the other junk they assigned at my school, most of which I'm too embarrassed to list on GR, probably not.Just a few things:1) The phrase "descent into madness" is officially overused. It's on the GR writeup of this book, it's on the back cover of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden AND Sibyll (and by the way: Sibyll didn't descend into anything in that book- she was fully immersed in madness from the get-go) AND My Own Private Germany. So enough with the descending already. People need to find another way to express the gradual deterioration of a character's mental health.2) Is "madness" a blanket term which covers all mental illness? I'm not trying to make light of Lisa's condition (or anybody else's), but I tend to think of madness as having delusions, maybe hallucinations. Doesn't it require some psychosis- an altered perception of reality? Schizophrenia is definitely madness. Delerium, although temporary, fits my idea of madness. Mood disorders, serious as they are, don't seem like they qualify as "madness". So can a person be suicidal without being "mad"? I guess they can. Am I way off base with this? What do other people think?3) As the title implies, Lisa was bipolar (i.e. manic/depressive). That is a serious and debilitating condition, which can totally wreck a person's life. I think Lisa even cut herself, or did something suicidal in this book- anyhow, it should be clear enough that she suffered a serious disease which is outside the normal range of emotions.... yet, when discussing this book in class, I remember my teacher using it as a lead-in to say "If any of you have ups and downs, you may need help. You can always come to me..." kind-of-thing. GROOOOAAAAAAANNNNNNNNN... good intentions, I know... but poorly executed. Half the class was freaked out, thinking "Oh my God- I've got a serious mental condition." They did. It's called being in 8th grade. Fortunatley the prognosis for that condition is much brighter than bipolar disorder. Maybe the Teachers' Edition of this book should come with a big warning label on it: "IF YOU ARE NOT A LICENSED PSYCHIATRIST, DO NOT TELL KIDS THEY HAVE THIS DISEASE."