Hailed as a "work of art" by the New York Times, this best-selling classic brings a deft touch and understanding spirit to the story of a teenage girl's descent into madness - and the three friends who are determined to walk with her where adults fear to tread.
I remember this book from when it was first released way back in the 70s, I think, or perhaps late 60s. It was one of those books everyone was reading - along with I Never Promised You A Rose Garden. I remember the movie, too. It had an all star cast and Kay Lenz, who played Lisa, was lovely. We all wanted to be her. She also starred in Breezy; with the still dreamy but much too old for her Bill Holden. That was definitely in the seventies.
This was a real pleasure to listen to. Like refinding an old friend. The story is a bit dated. The girls talk about musical groups and actors who aren't well-known today - although I suppose Paul Newman is still remembered, but is he remembered as a sex symbol? When this book came out, Paul Newman was a real hunk and soooo many of us were totally crushing on him.
I found Kay Lenz's narration charming. She has a lovely voice with a bit of huskiness to it, and she's a natural as a reader. I looked but couldn't find anything else narrated by her, but like any great actor, she's a master at providing that feeling/inflection that brings dialogue to life. I looked her up and while she's still acting, she also has a lovely pottery line! You can find samples of it on the Kay Lenz Facebook Fan Page. Good on her!
The story is about Lisa, an all-American girl - pretty, bright, confident - who is experiencing the onset of mental illness. Her behaviour fluctuates and at first, the main signs are her dark moods and outbursts. She reaches out to her parents, but they refuse to believe there is anything wrong, choosing to see her behaviour as attention seeking. As her friends become increasingly concerned, they reach out to the adults around them: Lisa's parents, the school counsellor, their parents, but no one seems willing to help Lisa. So they decide they have to do something, and that's what the book is about.
I found the story touching and surprisingly still relevant. Indeed, not long after listening to it, I was telling my sister about it and she related a story she'd just heard from a young couple at a wedding she attended. The young woman suffered from mental illness (I think she was bipolar), and when she was afflicted in her teens, she found it very hard to get any real help. She was lucky to find support eventually, and now in her mid-20s, she's doing great, but her parents are still in denial about her condition. They just refuse to believe that there is anything wrong or different about her, and if she'd left it to them, she'd still be without treatment, and probably wouldn't have been getting married, either! This strange coincidence of finding and listening to this classic only to have my sister tell me a similar story when I mentioned it tells me that this book is, sadly, still relevant. I hope that younger readers find this book!