In the vein of It's Kind of a Funny Story and All the Bright Places, comes a captivating, immersive exploration of life with mental illness.
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 worstthat 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?
In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, Eric Lindstrom, author of the critically acclaimed Not If I See You First, examines the fear that keeps us from exposing our true selves, and the courage it takes to be loved for who we really are.
|Publisher:||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
|Product dimensions:||5.70(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||15 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Eric Lindstrom is a BAFTA and WGA-nominated veteran of the interactive entertainment industry. He is the author of Tragic Kind of Wonderful and Not If I See You First.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a contemporary YA novel about a character with severe bipolar disorder still learning how to cope with the ups and downs of her emotional world. Mel Hannigan is a seventeen year old girl struggling through her days with a newly (one year) diagnosed bipolar disorder. Her elder brother, Nolan, also suffered this disease, as does her Aunt Joan--who they all call HJ or "Hurricane Joan." Nolan, who we only meet in flashback, died four years ago--in an accident that stemmed from his mania. Since his tragic death, her parents have divorced and Mel lives with her mother and HJ. She'd also lived with her grandmother, but she died a year ago after a battle with stomach cancer. Mel works in the Silver Sands, the same nursing home where her grandmother spent her final days. It's a touchstone place, for her, where she has many friends among the residents, including Dr. Jordan--a retired psychiatrist. He helped "diagnose" Mel before she had her first manic episode--and subsequent crash--just over a year ago, now. At that time, Mel was having a break with her group of friends, losing Annie, Conner and Zumi when she backed away following a fight and power play which coincided with an inpatient stay for treatment of her mental issues. Now she balances a cocktail of prescriptions designed to keep her moods even, and has two close-ish friends Holly and Declan, who brought her school work home over the period of her long absence and recovery--which everyone believes was for mono and bronchitis, not bipolar disorder. When the book picks up, Annie has inexplicably reached out to leave behind childhood relics with Mel for Conner and Zumi--mementos of their friendship--because Annie's family is moving to Paris and she doesn't want to confront either Conner or Zumi regarding this life change. Turns out Annie isn't a nice person, and Zumi was desperately crushing on her. Mel knows it will break Zumi's heart, and the stress is fracturing her grip on her moods. Right about then, Mel meets David, grandson of one of the elderly residents at Silver Sands, and they strike a cautious friendship--which could lead to more. They both seem to want this, but Mel is reluctant because she doesn't think she--the gal with the broken brain--is really worthy of love. Surely someone "normal" is better suited for everyone. Just look at HJ! She's the life of the party and pretty, but no man will settle down with her. Okay, so, being in the mind of a person with a mental condition like bipolar disorder is never easy. There are bouts of mania and depression, and episodes of disordered thinking and obsessive-compulsive behavior. That's not all of the book, but those moments exist and they ramp the tension up high as we're not quite sure where Mel will go, or what she will do, when she's manic, or obsessive. She does a LOT of checking in with her body and mind, and talking to responsible adults about her mental well-being, with is fantastic. Her aunt's not a great influence, because she's sure that Mel's missing out on life, doped up and quelled by medication. Joan is currently unmedicated, but her strong personality doesn't sway Mel from her chosen course to medicate--because she knows how things can go tragically wrong for someone like herself--like Nolan--when there's no meds on board. And, unfortunately, in her periods of mania she sometimes misses doses, leading to a downward spiral that results in another bad episode. The story resonated for me.
Unfortunately, this book fell a little flat for me. I enjoyed Lindstrom's debut, and I was looking forward to this one, but it just...wasn't very memorable. Even trying to review this a short time after reading, I can't remember much that stood out to me, I'm sorry to say. Writing: The writing this time around was not page-turning. While I did fly through it, it was more because the book was short and simple to read. The prose wasn't very lyrical or attention-grabbing. It was, however, easy to follow and get into the flow of the story. Characters: Unfortunately, the characters pretty much all fell flat for me. I would have loved to see Mel more fleshed-out and complex. I think her friends, as well as her mom and aunt, were great additions to the story, but the were two-dimensional and just...there. These characters could have been so much more, and brought so much to the story. I couldn't bring myself to be interested in the drama of what happened between Mel and her ex-friends. While I did like David, the love interest, he too fell flat. I didn't get any swoony vibes from him, and the relationship between him and Mel felt forced and off. Plot: The story starts off very slow. I didn't think it was too hard to get into, because the story is easy to follow and easy to read. But I felt the ending was too rushed, trying to fit in too many things and tie up too many loose ends at once. I think the part that interested me most was Nolan, her brother, and the story surrounding him, but we don't get much of that. The story is more about friendship and her bipolar disorder, than it is about the romance (which I always appreciate). Depiction of Mental Illness: Mel has bipolar disorder. While I can't talk to the accuracy of the rep (if you know of any #ownvoices reviews, link 'em my way), I do think it is so important to have this rep (if it's done well, which I think it was). Mel is on meds, and goes to therapy, and I think it is so important for kids to see this and realize it's okay. Mel also has a few different coping methods we see throughout the book, and I think it was good that we got to see those as well. The book was light and enjoyable while reading it, although not very memorable after the fact. While it had potential, and I was so hoping to love it, it ultimately fell a little flat. I appreciated the representation, but truthfully there wasn't really much else going for it.
I first came across Eric Lindstrom when he curated the November NOVLbox, then I had the opportunity to review his latest realease A Tragic Kind of Wonderful. Eric Lindstrom has a unique voice that recognizes the struggle of a young girl with a bipolar disorder. Even those who don't suffer from the same condition will be able to understand Mel's coming-of-age tale. Mel is trying to live a balance life, but the unpredictable turns of her mood make it a bit complicated and even harder to hide from her friends. She keeps track of her mind and body with a clever and detailed chart. Every chapter begins with a legend that describes her mood. It adds another level to her character that helps the reader understand her. Mel is a truly lovable character. She's open about her flaws and issues, but still tries to make other people happy. Her selfless personality makes you root for her to work out her problems and wish that she gets a happy ending, despite the drama brewing in her life. I wasn't crazy about the little segue into her sexuality and that of her friend Zumi. It seemed like something added to the plot to make it more current and reach a certain audience, but the story would have been just fine with a different lead up to the climax. It kind of disrupted the path the story was taking, though not by much. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful reminded me of Laura Lascarso's Counting Backwards. There's just something about young women who don't let mental illness stand in the way of living a normal life, even if they have to struggle to get there. Learning to appreciate who they are on top of that and they become a source of inspiration to all young women. The depth of the novel is shown because Lindstrom is adept at painting a picture for readers about this topic. For me this novel is a step to truly understanding what bipolar disorder is and how it can possibly affect those with it. *ARC won in an Early Reviewer giveaway sponsored by the NOVL*