Book Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom


Title: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful 
Author:  Eric Lindstrom
ARC Paperback: 275 pages
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Mental Health Awareness, Young Adult
Rating: star icon star icon star icon star icon

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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 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?

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.

This book is one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 and I absolutely loved Lindstrom’s debut novel, Not If I See You First. There may be some spoilers in this review because I just read it and I have all of my thoughts running from my mind! If you haven’t read the book, you can still read this review but just a warning some minor spoilers. But, I did try to make this as spoiler free as possible.

In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful,we meet Mel who is dealing with bipolar disorder and hiding it from her friends to be “normal”. She’s also hiding another big secret, that she has a brother, Nolan.

I really loved the parent/aunt relationships that Mel has with her mother and Aunt Joan (HJ). I barely see parents in Young Adult books and I love when I see parental relationships amongst the main character. Hurricane Joan really stood out to me and I am so glad she was apart of this story.

My most favorite thing about Lindstrom and his stories are that they are female characters. As he is a male author, he always nails his female characters to the fullest. I always appreciate the realistic side to Contemporary stories, for instance in A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, Mel gets her period. This had me cheering!!

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Especially that this novel is written by a MALE AUTHOR. It’s such a real thing and I applaud Lindstrom for this. (Thank you!!!) Mel felt so real and raw in this story, and I really loved her, she was super relatable just like Lindstrom’s other character, Parker.

” I have a date tonight”

She stops to look at me, eyebrows raised.

“With my soulmate…Netflix” (46, Lindstrom)

Going off of this book being realistic, Mel works at the old folks home, Silver Sands Suites and forms relationships with the residents such as a new resident, Ms. Li and Mr. Terrance Knight. I loved seeing how Mel felt so comfortable when she was surrounded by these people. Also, leading to a new friend, David. I rarely see characters with a job, I loved that Mel had a job.

I really like how Lindstrom NEVER focuses primarily on the romance in his stories. This book also did that, we do see her interest progress with David but it isn’t the main focus of the story. The main focus is Mel and her bipolar disorder. Their relationship felt real, especially the fact that Mel didn’t want to get close to him.

Mel experiences lots of high school drama with her past friends – Zumi, Connor and Annie – and we see her new friends (who are the bomb I love them) Holly and Declan. This is such a diverse friend group and I loved them. They do things like, Movie Roulette where they basically movie hop and it’s hilarious! I really liked seeing the way things went between Mel and her past friends, Zumi and Connor. Also, the exploring of sexuality between to females. It was AWESOME.

“Spoiler!” someone yells, laughing.

“Snape kills Dumbledore!”

“Shut UP!”

Roars of laughter and a room divided. Holly covers her eyes with one hand. (54, Lindstrom)

As for bipolar disorder representation, I cannot comment on the accurate representation because I haven’t had any experiences with bipolar disorder. However, I really did like seeing Mel’s “animals” at the beginnings of every chapter – for those who haven’t read it, Mel describes her mind, heart and , as well as her visits with Dr. Oswald and Dr. Jordan. I do wish we had more scenes of her visits with Dr. Oswald because I feel it was very important.

For those who have read Not If I See You First (or haven’t!), Parker is a runner who is blind. We see Mel going to the track and watch the joggers because it reminds her of her brother, Nolan who was a long-jumper. I really liked seeing the mention of running in his sophomore novel! I wasn’t sure if we would get that in this book.

Me after reading the book: 

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Overall, I really did enjoy this book and it did meet my expectations. However, I did feel it was slow at parts and to be completely honest I was getting a little bored toward the end and some of my questions went unanswered. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, a lot! I would recommend 🙂



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