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His Bright Light / Danielle Steele Essay, Research Paper

Derek Mullins

Book Report

His Bright Light

by Danielle Steele

This is the story of Nick Traina, one of Danielle Steele’s sons. He was a manic-depressant. Danielle Steele says that this book is “a story of an illness, a fight to live, and a race against death.” And she wrote it in “hopes of helping someone else.” I think that Danielle Steele wrote this book for the previous reasons and as a way to help her get through the lose of her son, by writing down her memories of him. She included many songs and letters written by her son in the book and a few letters written by herself. She has also been the victim of bad press in the past and maybe this was a way to get her son’s story out to the public, before the media got any ideas.

Danielle Steele wanted the reader to feel the love and hope for her son like she had felt. This was the story of a young man that, statistically, was to go places in life. He had everything that one could wish for: intelligence, good looks, charm, and a wealthy, loving family. There was one problem. Although he had everything on the outside to make him successful, Nick had something hidden inside him that only surfaced briefly throughout his life, until it finally consumed him. It was manic-depression. No matter how well he did or how he felt, this disease was right there waiting to bring him down.

Most of his life, Nick’s problems were misinterpreted. Not knowing her son’s problem, his mother made excuses and covered for his actions all the time until people couldn’t accept them anymore. She tried everything she could to help her son, but nothing worked. Countless shrinks, vacations, schools, etc. failed to help, until she met Julie. Julie was a psychiatrist that Nick finally felt comfortable with. Along with Julies help, Danielle Steele finally convinced a doctor to put Nick on some kind of drug that would help fight his depression. The combination of drugs that finally worked for Nick was Prozac and Lithium; Lithium being the more effective of the two.

Even though they finally found the medication that worked for Nick’s disease, keeping him on it was another battle. In the long run, Julie was one of the only people that could get him to take his medication. He trusted her. Being consistent with taking his medication proved to be the hardest of all. This inconsistency proved to be fatal. Nick Traina finally fell into the thirty percent of manic-depressants that commit suicide, after his third try.

This book kind of read like a broken record. I read the book in sections: pages 1 through 65, 66 through 130, 131 through 240, then to the end. Every time I picked up the book I felt deja vu. I would search backwards to see if I had read it already, but I hadn’t, the story was pretty much the same with each reading session: Nick’s feeling better, he’s going to be a rock star; Nick’s feeling bad again; Danielle Steele sends him to another doctor then she goes on vacation; she gets the phone call, Nick’s feeling better……….

I wondered throughout the book if the manic side of the disease actually helped in making him so out going and hardworking sometimes. This book showed the reader that money can’t always buy a cure. He had the best doctors, counselors, attendants, schools etc. that money could by. I hardly ever read of his mother actually spending time alone with him, to see what his thoughts were.

I chose this book because my family has a similar situation going on with my cousin. She’s now twenty years old and suffers from what doctors now believe is Bipolar disease. Like Nick, she’s gone to many unknowing doctors, been through various schools, in and out of trouble and she’s always on the go (100 miles an hour and everything’s extreme). What’s strange in my cousin’s situation is that she never acts up around the people that she has great respect for, like me and my grandparents. Like Danielle Steele, my Aunt is always leaving the responsibility of my cousin’s fate to other people, because she can’t handle her. Or is my Aunt tired of trying to handle her? That’s a touchy family subject.

It was weird sometimes reading this book, the similarities between my Aunt and Danielle Steele. Between the vacation homes and ritzy lifestyles, it was kind of erie. I felt sympathy for Nick while reading the book, but I had a hard time excepting the sincerity in his mother’s sorrow. I believe that she felt it, but I didn’t think she did as much as she could. Going on vacation while her son wasn’t doing well, just didn’t sit to well with me. I think she realized more what her son meant to her, after he was gone.

I think this book went over some of the personality disorders that we touched on in this course. Manic-depression being one of them. It showed me another example of how a mental disorder can affect a person’s life and the people around them. The book didn’t really seem to go into very much therapy detail, as to relate to the book, other than individual therapy. I wonder if a group type of therapy would have worked for Nick, at least someway for him to see that he wasn’t alone. Many people go through the highs and lows like he had experienced, but they just keep them hidden better.

Overall, I thought the book was alright. I really thought that the book could’ve been summed up in a magazine article. Other than the songs and letters, it was the same thing over and over again. I was hoping to get more into the mind of Nick, to hear about what he was going through mentally. Did he feel alone? A lot of the questions that I had, were the same that Danielle Steele was asking, so many of them went unanswered.

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