For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to keep everyone at arm’s length. And when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.
As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst–that her friends will abandon her if they learn the truth about what she’s been hiding. Can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?
An interesting tale of loss, health and happiness, A Tragic Kind of Wonderful was a truly moving book to read. I’m not sure whether it was the portrayal of the character or the fluent writing style of Eric Lindstrom, but this was a book a just simply couldn’t put down! Admittedly, I had reservations about reading this book. Lindstrom’s debut novel, Not If I See You First didn’t rank very highly in my eyes and I ended up putting it down after reading around fifty pages. However, after reading this brilliant tale, I find myself intrigued and wanting to revisit the first novel again.
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful deals with the sensitive issues of loss and mental health. This is what I adore about young adult literature – it has the ability to discuss sensitive issues that cannot be dealt with in adult literature as easily. I was told a few weeks ago, that young adult literature is not a genre, but instead a state of mind. We cannot place an age limit on the stories, as we simply learn to grow out of them. This fantastic novel demonstrates this perfectly. Again, I adore how this novel eats away at the stigmas placed on both mental health and grief.
Now it’s no secret in today’s society, mental health is quite an open thing. There are all these groups and people you can talk to, without feeling the pressure of being labelled negative stereotypes. But there are certain illnesses that people still tend to perceive worse than others, and this novel helps to remove the stigma that is placed on people with those kinds of mental health disorders. I adored how Eric Lindstrom broke down the barriers that many people may find difficult to discuss.
Grief is a funny thing, and while people can be sympathetic for the most part, they sometimes forget to realise that grief is not a fast process to deal with. There is no set time-limit on when you won’t grieve anymore, and Mel is definitely still grieving. While not a large emphasis is placed on this theme, the presence of this may just go on to help someone who is struggling to cope with things and really help.
Despite the willingness to accept mental health in YA literature, it isn’t a theme I tend to read about very much – through fault of my own, admittedly. There are plenty of books on mental health out there. But this book was just compelling me to complete. I wanted to learn more about Mel and her illness. I wanted to understand why the things around her were as they were. And I’m glad I did, because not only was it satisfying to read, but it was also fantastic to learn about the true effects of mental illness. I feel the author must have carefully researched this before writing, to come up with such amazing work.
I have to admit that while I wasn’t a fan of the authors debut novel, this book has persuaded me to give it a try in the new year. When A Tragic Kind of Wonderful hits shelves here in the UK, it will be sitting on my crowded book shelf. For now, I will have to just keep rereading the e-book version until I have a physical copy in my possession. And Eric Lindstrom, keep on writing me fantastic stories to read. You’ve set the bar pretty high, please don’t stumble over it with your next piece of work.
Don’t just take my word for it! Here are what a few other bloggers worldwide had to say about the book.
Lola @ Hit or Miss Books says “It does read well. It IS a page-turner.”
Danielle @ Urban Book Reviews says “I highly recommend this YA story to all.”
Jackie @ No Bent Spines says “Well, it’s fantastic, and tragic, and wonderful.”