ASK! about Special Needs and Disabilities
There are many stories evolving around the concept of an unsound mind, and touches on issues like suicide, depression and schizophrenia. Mental illness is a very broad classification. Below are some stories on depression and schizophrenia:
Lisa, bright and dark: a novel by John Neufeld
Call No.: Y NEU
Lisa Shilling, a sixteen-year-old girl, is rapidly descending into madness, but nobody is helping, except her friends, whose pleas are drowned by the adults. On days when she feels bright, Lisa is friendly; on her dark days, she is violent, erratic, and a danger to herself and others. Once, she hid under a teacher’s desk and pricked her wrists repeatedly causing them to bleed. During an outdoor barbeque, she tried to burn another girl. Lisa herself knew that she was gong mad, and had tried to get attention by jumping through a glass wall, but her attempts were rebuffed by her parents as merely extreme behaviour and unhealthy influence from her peers.
Rabble Starkey by Lois Lowry
Call No.: J LOW
Parable Ann (Rabble) Starkey’s mother is the Bigelow’s housekeeper, and she is also good friends with the Bigelow daughter, Veronica. One day, when Rabble and Veronica took the latter’s brother out for play, they were disturbed by the town bully and chased after him, leaving the boy alone. They heard screams, turned back and found Mrs Bigelow half trying to drown him, half trying the breast feed him. News that Mrs Bigelow is mentally unsound spreads through town and she is sent to the local mental hospital. Veronica feels ashamed, and thinks about erasing her mother from her memory. Despite the incident, or perhaps because of it, things became better for the Starkey and Bigelows. The Starkeys moved in with the Bigelows, and Rabble’s mother was given sponsorship to study. Treatment leads to Mrs Bigelow recovery and she can finally return home. This is both good and bad news for Rabble, for they must move out when Mrs Bigelow returns. Thankfully however, her mother, with her education, can now better provide for them and find their own home.
The meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Call No.: Y ORT
A story about a girl growing up in a San Juan suburb during a time of major American influence. Her name was Consuelo, meaning ‘consolation’. As elder sister, she cared for Millagros, who was prettier, and whose name stood for ‘miracle’. The conflict of tradition versus reform opens the story, where a transvestite is accepted in the community only within severely restricted boundaries, or when he is useful. The girls are reprimanded when by chance, they come into contact with him. As Consuelo transcends into womanhood, she lives with this conflict, witnessing her parents’ battle of ideas, her father’s infidelity, her gay cousin’s escape to New York, and her own experience with relationship. She survives these trials of life, but she loses Millagros to schizophrenia, though she continues looking after her.
Posted by Ang Mei Jun,
Librarian, Adult & Young People’s Services
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