A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
Harper Collins Publishers
Published December 29, 2016
About A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL
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?
So many thoughts on this book keep rattling around in my head. On the one hand, I loved that A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL shows a positive representation of medication to regulate mental health issues. Mel wants to be on medication. She recognizes that it helps her be more herself and helps keep her safe.
Also, Mel’s a fixer. She likes everyone to get along. She soothes people, avoids conflict, and will take herself out of a situation if she feels like her presence is only adding conflict to it. I really identified with her in that regard. My favorite parts of A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL are about Mel learning how to fight– for herself, for her friends, for permission from herself just to be. A lot of those struggles hit home in a big way for me.
If you know anything about books, you probably guess that while Mel wants to be on her meds and is in regular therapy appointments, she has a pretty big crash. I feel like I’m not qualified to speak to the authenticity of her experience, but it felt very real reading each scene where she unravels. The writing allowed me to feel both in her head and like an observer, watching and hoping someone noticed what was going on before she completely spiraled out of control.
It’s weird– I keep noticing the presence of community in stories lately and the message that we need a community around us, and often, our community will stand by us through things we sometimes thought would scare them off. I loved those elements of A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL, too, from the sweet watchful residents of the nursing home where Mel works to her friends and even her mom.
There are a couple of rough scenes that might be difficult for sensitive readers. I’ll include some notes on those below in the content section, so be sure to check those out.
Recommended for Ages 15 up.
One of Mel’s best friends is Japanese. She makes friends with a Chinese boy at the nursing home where she works. Mel has bipolar disorder. Her brother had the same diagnosis and Mel’s aunt has many of the same symptoms, though she’s undiagnosed and refuses medication.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
At least a dozen instances of profanity, including f***.
A boy and girl kiss. A girl and girl kiss and grope each other under their shirts.
Brief reference to Buddhism. Mel plays piano with a retired reverend. Sometimes they play hymns together. He asks her to play as his way to lift her up.
Violent Content – Trigger Warning and Spoiler
Mel resists memories of her brother’s death, something she witnessed that’s obviously really traumatic for her.
He did a super dangerous thing and died doing it. She wonders if he did it on purpose. Then she returns to the scene of his death with the intention of repeating what he tried to do. She isn’t thinking of killing herself, but she repeatedly does things which behaviorally are suicidal.
Mel drinks alcohol with her friends and ends up with a terrible hangover.
Note: I received a free copy of A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL by Eric Lindstrom in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links which cost you nothing but which help support this blog.