Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Must Read: His Bright Light

His Bright Light is a memoir by Danielle Steel about her own son Nick Traina who struggled with bipolar disorder (also referred to as manic-depressive). Whether you’re a fan of Danielle Steel or not, you’ll want to read this book. I read this a few years back when I was trying to read anything related to mood disorders. I was immediately drawn into this extraordinary account of her son’s life and the impact it had on those around him. She shares small details from his unusual sleep patterns as a toddler to his heartbreaking journal entries as an adolescent. Their journey from wilderness camps to psych wards and medication and even 24 hour care, detail the progression of his illness and her attempt to do whatever she could to help her son. In the end, Nick Traina took his own life at the age of 19.

Writing this book only weeks after his death, Steel gives a heart wrenching account of her son’s life, the good and the bad. The love she had for her son is unmistakable.

In the book, Steel writes, “If I had three wishes, one would be that he had never suffered from mental illness, the other would be of course that he were alive today, but the third would be that someone had warned me, at some point, that his illness–manic depression—could kill him.” (Steel, p.  xx)

With that, she shares the purpose of writing this book, that her son’s life may be “a gift to others”, that lessons will be learned about his illness and a life may be saved with it. She shares that “You have to understand what you’re dealing with, to accept that what you’re dealing with is the equivalent of not just a bellyache, but liver cancer. You have to know that what you’re facing is serious, important, dangerous, and potentially fatal.” (Steel, p. xxi)

Personally, one of lessons that stuck with me is to teach my child while he’s young the importance of staying on his medication, especially when he’s feeling good. Already we’ve had this discussion many times. The other lesson I haven’t forgotten is that before a person commits suicide, they often appear ok. As Steel writes, “...manic-depressives rarely kill themselves while in the depths of depression. They often wait to do it until they feel better, are slightly manic, and have the strength to do so.” (Steel, p. 273)

I encourage you to read this book, to learn from their journey. Maybe for one of you, Steel’s wish will come true and a life will be saved.

Find it at Amazon:

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All Proceeds from this book go to the Nick Traina Foundation that was established to benefit mental health, music and child related causes.

More about Nick Traina:

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Also, check out my friend’s post at My Sweet and Sour Girl, she also did a review on this same book and brings a unique perspective that you’ll appreciate reading:

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His Bright Light: The Story of Nick Traina. 
By Danielle Steel


  1. THanks for the suggestion! I hadn't heard of this. I just put it on the waiting list at our library.

  2. That’s great Sarah, let us know what you think after you’re done. I think I’m going to read my copy again, we’ve gone through so much since the first time I read it, I’m sure it will have a different effect on me.

  3. Awesome job on the book review, Mama Bear!:)