Sada Fretz

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 403

[Lisa, Bright and Dark is the] story of a teen-aged girl who is losing her mind and knows it…. The story does not delve into the gruesome details of mental illness but it does present a serious subject previously untouched in children's books, and its disintegrating heroine is convincing in her desperation. Despite some faults—the adults are either shadows or stereotypes; the girls' conversations about movies, boys and diets often lack authenticity, the doctor's final emergence and acceptance by Lisa's parents constitutes too pat a solution—this story is superior to most junior novels, is skillfully constructed and more exciting than Neufeld's previous, highly praised Edgar Allan….

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Sada Fretz, "The Book Review: 'Lisa, Bright and Dark'," in School Library Journal, an appendix to Library Journal (reprinted from the February, 1970 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1970), Vol. 16, No. 6, February, 1970, p. 90.

Harry Walsh's first experience of Twink, his cerebral-palsied stepsister, is a shock and, when he finds he can divine her meaning, something of a tonic; [Touching] is not Harry's story, however, though he is the nominal narrator of half of it, but Twink's as he draws it first from his stepmother on the drive home to Chicago and then from another older stepsister, the narrative having resumed in the third person on their arrival. The mechanics defy explanation as does the desultory attempt to fictionalize a memoir akin to [John Gunther's] Death Be Not Proud. Twink does not die, but in her refusal to despair she is like Johnny Gunther—or would be if we had more than snatches of her, and less of her physical surroundings, her treatment and maltreatment in various institutions…. Whether better or worse she had always been alert and hopeful … right up to the ghastly brain operation, without anesthesia, that loosened her few controls and left her blind. That Harry, on meeting her, remained unaware of her blindness is a bit of duplicity on the part of the author but only incidental to the general malfunctioning. A final warning: this is a short book in large, ten-year-old type and one usually imperturbable adult found the dismemberment of Twink's brain, graphically detailed, almost too much to bear; that the operation is authentic compounds the danger of instilling in children a horror of brain surgery.

"Older Fiction: 'Touching'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1970 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XXXVIII, No. 20. October 15, 1970, p. 1163.

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