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Lisa, Bright and Dark

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,991 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published June 1st 1999 by Puffin (first published 1968)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 17, 2011 Myles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
The stuff that after-school specials are made of...and I'm not kidding, Lisa, Bright and Dark was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV drama, the cover says so.

But don't be so quick to judge, this is hardly Go Ask Alice or any other histrionic 'What Happened to the Chiiildreeen!!' fare. Neufield is quick to establish Lisa Schilling's dilemma and the concern of her classmates Mary Nell (M.N.), Elizabeth and Betsey and the lack of response from teachers, the guidance counselor and Lisa's own famil
Aug 02, 2007 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: oldfavorites
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.
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
Jun 22, 2012 Sandy rated it liked it
Shelves: library, ya
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 ...more
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,
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 ...more
Jun 02, 2013 René rated it liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Jan 09, 2009 Taylor rated it liked it
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
Greta is Erikasbuddy
Apr 12, 2010 Greta is Erikasbuddy rated it really liked it
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 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 ...more
Afro Madonna
Aug 08, 2015 Afro Madonna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, deep, haunting
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. :*
Oct 07, 2015 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as a young teen and just thought it was sooooo good. I'm glad to say MANY moons later that I still think it's a good book, just maybe not sooooo good but yeah pretty decent.

Lisa is in the beginning stages of a mental disorder. She can feel something is happening and calls out for help but nobody, especially her parents want to see it or do anything about it. It kills me the politics in the schools... even back then when this book was written 60's and you know it's WAY worse thes
Anne Calvert
Mar 20, 2016 Anne Calvert rated it liked it
Lisa, bright and dark was written in 1969 by John Neufeld. The story was about the desperate attempt of three schoolmates to make Lisa's parents realize that Lisa had mental issues. Her parents don't want to believe there is anything wrong with their child. Lisa herself is aware and very frightened. The three girls decide they must help if other adults are not willing to get involved.

When this story was written, mental health issues were probably more pushed under the carpet and not discussed.
A lightweight book about a high-school girl who suffers from mental illness. As Lisa begins acting crazy, her friends try to help her. Although Lisa begs her parents to send her to a doctor, her parents think that she is just trying to get attention. The adults in this book are clueless. This is an older book, and has lots of 70's references that young readers today wouldn't get. The back cover compares the book to "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden" (an excellent book), but I don't think this ...more
Elise R
Oct 24, 2014 Elise R rated it liked it
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.
Oct 26, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
Just reread this after reading it as a teenager. (I'm rereading a lot and trying to decided what to keep in an effort to reduce my personal library....) Kind of fun to read the cultural references from the late 60s, when Paul Newman was the major heartthrob. I was more impressed with the book when I was 14, though.
I just read others' reviews, and a lot of people are questioning whether teenagers talked and acted like that at the time. It's not perfect, as it was written by an adult male and not
Mar 26, 2015 Jesi rated it it was amazing
Got this book from my beloved friend Christina H. I could barely put it down. It helped me to understand myself and another person from my life who I am distant from. I think what I loved so much about it is the reality of how people around you react and those three girls may seem like just ordinary girls but they were all amazing human beings, going above and beyond what I have seen any teenage friends do (well mine anyways). I see this willingness in adults here and there but to truly find thi ...more
Mama K
Dec 31, 2015 Mama K rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd first read this book in high school when drama and mental illness were quite in vogue but much less understood than they are today. I loved the book then, but now as a jaded old lady, I found it poorly written and overly simplistic. but perhaps I am being unfair; the book was published in 1969 when mental illness was rarely talked about and barely understood at all. So, I suppose, I should at least give it credit for even dealing with the topic at all. And it was a quick, one-day read. Howev ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, youthful
Dated, obviously, but it feels very genuine and honest.
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements.

This is a good book, and it touches on important themes. Really, it is a very important book. But I think over the other books I've read, and other ones just worked better for me, such as I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Probably the oddest thing for me about Lisa, Bright and Dark was the narrator. I'm still not 100% sure why she, of all the characters, was given the POV. It grew on me throughout the book, but at the same time, it really didn't work f
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 ...more
Feb 01, 2013 Cindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
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
Feb 24, 2010 Sarai rated it liked it
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
Jul 10, 2012 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nicole by: NPR PG13
Shelves: 2012
Awkward. That about sums up this whole book. I repeatedly had to remind myself that Lisa, Bright and Dark was written in the 70s - it really felt about 20 years older both in how the characters talked and interacted and the views of mental illness. Not that things have improved all that significantly. I just really couldn't buy into the characters - they didn't feel authentic to me. Dialogue was either too stilted or cheesy, situations seemed a little too convenient, reactions seemed to scripted ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Natalie rated it it was ok
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
Maran Gorham
Sep 05, 2011 Maran Gorham rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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
Christian Singer
Apr 28, 2014 Christian Singer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insightful glimpse of mental illness and how loved ones cope with it. Also John Neufeld delves into the power of denial. The "I don't want to get involved" attitude so prevalent in this book infuriated me. Ignoring mental illness and pretending everything's okay when it so obviously isn't does NOT make mental illness go away. There's something wrong in society when adults would rather ignore the problem and teenagers battle with bearing the load of a peer's mental illness.
Aug 09, 2014 Delphine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A classic

I loved this book when I was younger and I loved it today. if I would have thought earlier I would have insisted that this was a summer reading book. I feel it is such an important book to be read. The conflict inside ones own mind is something many, can relate to. Lisa, and her friends are like so many of us. Unfortunately, to many parents are like Lisa's. I highly, highly, recommend the fine book to all. *Woodward smile* :)
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