Book Review — Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World

Spiritual Memoir: a Sister Shares Her Quest to Help Her Brother Face a Mental Illness.

In Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World, a new release from Morehouse Publishing, Heather Gordon-Young draws the reader into the painful and baffling world faced by a family when serious mental illness affects one of its members. With rich almost poetic language, she bravely and sensitively shares both ordinary and painful experiences and mystifying holy moments — experiences that cannot be explained with logic, only with the heart. Heather’s story tells how her fierce love for her brother and her commitment to find help for him led her literally to the other side of the earth and to an exploration of the inner depths of her own faith.

When confronted with a stranger instead of the person you know, witnessing a loved one in the midst of a psychotic episode can be a horrifying experience, but stories like Heather’s must be told if we are to know the pain of serious mental illness and work for more compassionate churches and institutions. Heather’s experiences and her brother’s illness show how organized religion and the mental health system are frequently ill-equipped to help with problems that do not fit into predefined conditions.

After many soul-challenging events, Heather discovered sometimes there’s nothing we can do but be present with another person’s pain, and that is doing the thing that must be done. Fireflies is a fascinating story and will generate the kind of discussions faith communities need to have to look honestly at what they can do to be more responsive to people and families facing mental illness.

Fireflies: Finding Light in a Dark World by Heather Gordon-Young
Morehouse Publishing, $22.00
ISBN-10: 0819232009