Published by Poppy on 2/7/17
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Depression & Mental Illness
My content rating: YA (Themes of mental illness & death, Nothing more than kissing, though some implication of a bit more)
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 story delved into mental illness in a way that felt true-to-life (complete with a bit of teen drama), and I was instantly drawn into Mel’s story.
What Fed My Addiction:
- Relatable to a younger YA audience. This book shines a light on mental illness in a way that seems a bit more approachable to a younger YA audience than some others that tackle the subject, which I think is incredibly valuable. It shows how fragile mental stability can be against a backdrop of typical teen angst—issues with friends and a new romance. Since most teens can imagine themselves in situations like the ones that Mel finds herself in, it might make the book a bit more relatable than some similar books might seem (again, especially for that younger YA set—who are sometimes overlooked a bit when it comes to books about mental illness). Many teens will be able to empathize with Mel’s “typical” problems that stem with problems with her friends and the possibility of a new romance, which will help them sympathize with Mel’s much more unique issues stemming from her mental illness (even if they’ve never been exposed to the realities of mental illness before). At least, that’s my theory. 🙂
- Importance of medicine. This book drives home how important medication can be for people with mental illness and the very real possible consequences of not getting the proper treatment. It also put counseling into a positive light and stressed that people with mental illness do not need to be ashamed and hide their illness. (There were some technical terms included in the book too, but they were peppered in with layman’s explanations, so it worked well as an educational tool without seeming like one.)
- Heartbreaking. I definitely found myself in tears more than once while reading this book. I was so connected to Mel, and my heart broke for her when she was spiraling out of control!
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- A lot going on. Since Mel’s life is headed in several different directions, none of her relationships can be completely, 100% fleshed out. The romance is cute, but nothing spectacular, and some of the drama with her friends can seem like … well, drama. Still, I thought that this book had more than enough heart to make up for some of its drawbacks.
This book explores an important topic in a way that makes it feel relatable. I easily give it 4/5 stars!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Eric Lindstrom enjoys writing Young Adult novels, including his debut novel, Not If I See You First, released December 2015, and A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, coming early 2017, in English in the USA from the Poppy imprint of Little, Brown for Young Readers, and in the UK and the rest of the world from HarperCollins Children’s Books.
He has also worked in the interactive entertainment industry for years as a creative director, game designer, writer, and combinations of all three. As Editor and Co-Writer for Tomb Raider: Legend he received a 2006 BAFTA nomination for Best Video Game Screenplay. As Creative Director and writer for Tomb Raider: Underworld he received a 2009 BAFTA nomination for Best Action Adventure Video Game and a 2009 Writers Guild of America (WGA) nomination for Best Writing in a Video Game.
He has also raised children, which led to becoming first a school volunteer, then a substitute teacher, then a part time kindergarten teacher, then getting a credential to teach elementary school, and most importantly the discovery that Young Adult books are awesome. It’s pretty much all he ever reads, and now writes, in his house near the beach on the west coast, with his wife and, yes, cats.