His Bright Light: review of Danielle Steel’s book

His Bright Light: The Story of Nick TrainaHis Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina by Danielle Steel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my favorite Danielle Steel book. Yes, it is partly because I share her experience of parenting a child with mental illness (though Nick had childhood-onset bipolar disorder and my Ben has schizophrenia which began to appear gradually in his mid-teens) – but, this common thread aside, I couldn’t help but applaud Steel’s candor and courage in sharing her experiences with the world.

Her Nick is vibrant, charming, brilliant – and troubled. Steel struggles to understand, especially in the light of all the “experts” who tell her that the illness she suspects simply doesn’t exist.
This memoir not only lets us into the family experience, it also shines a spotlight on the mental health system, with the flaws and limitations of too little research and too much closed-mindedness.

And, oh boy, are there flaws. From laws that forbid the family to “force” medication on someone who is so clearly helped by it to psychiatrists who are all too quick to “blame the mother”, these “flaws” quickly close door after door.

Kudos to Steel for telling her story. There is no fairy-tale ending here. Perhaps that’s why she writes so many such endings in her novels.

Mom-to-Mom, and I thank Steel for this book. And my heart goes out to all in her family.

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