- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Poppy (February 7, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316260061
- ISBN-13: 978-0316260060
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Tragic Kind of Wonderful Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Mel has bipolar disorder and professes to have a "superpower" that lets her avoid thinking about certain things, especially her dead brother or the real reasons why she lost her best friends around the time of her diagnosis. She has made new friends, but she has been able to hide her illness from them. Mel works at a nursing home where a retired psychiatrist keeps an eye on her, and she is in treatment with her own doctor, too. After she meets a resident's grandson, David, she wants to get closer to him, but she is worried that as he really gets to know her, he won't like her. Though she has her ups and downs, Mel can appear fairly even-keeled until an incident with her former friends begins a terrifying descent into a manic episode. Lindstrom offers an intense look at one person's experience with bipolar disorder, but unfortunately, the story's execution is unsatisfying. The characters are undeveloped, particularly Mel, who seems defined by her diagnosis. In addition, there is a troubling correlation between her mental illness and her sexual behavior, and there are cringeworthy scenes relating her constant desire to touch the hair of minority characters. The messages that Mel needs to keep fewer secrets in order to truly be close to others (and to more effectively treat her mental illness) and that real friends will stick around in spite of her diagnosis are nearly lost in the meandering narrative. VERDICT Weak character development and plotting make this an additional purchase.—Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud, MN
Praise for A Tragic Kind of Wonderful:
"Lindstrom (Not If I See You First) deftly addresses life with bipolar disorder, as well as the internalized shame often felt by individuals with mental illness. Emotions run high as Lindstrom's story confronts mental illness, grief, and shame, but the optimistic resolution provides balance."―Publishers Weekly
"Lindstrom's compelling novel is rich in clinical detail, which is nicely integrated into the plot, ensuring the novel is never didactic but always dramatic...Readers will find Mel's story always absorbing and gain insight into her troubling disorder. Those who enjoy this fine novel will also enjoy Jennifer Niven's All the Bright Places (2015)."―Booklist
"An engaging and fast-moving plot that foregrounds Mel as a person who maintains a strong ethic of kindness even and especially when [she's] down, making her a bipolar poster child fully worthy of reader sympathy."―BCCB
Top Customer Reviews
Mel has bipolar disorder, the rapid cycling kind and is further afflicted with what is called Dysphoric Mania-strong depression with accompanying manic energy, a condition that can be scary and lethal. She’s just lost a year of her life, along with the three friends who saved her after the move. Her obsessive need/belief that hiding her illness is necessary in order to have any life or friends essentially cost her those friends and her rigidity surrounding her feelings toward them and her fear about coming clean, create an invisible prison that just seems to exacerbate her denial.
It isn’t until she finds a boy, David, whose grandmother is moving into the assisted living facility where she works part time and they start to connect, that the rigidity starts showing cracks. How it eventually crumbles takes readers through intense pain, a few scary situations and some teeth gritting over Mel’s refusal to let go of certain beliefs and behaviors.
The author may have tried packing too many scenes and ideas into the story, but as a former mental health professional who worked with teens, I found it a darn good read and one worth handing to young adults struggling with emotional issues or who have friends who are.
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.
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*
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was my first read by Eric Lindstrom and I can't wait to read more by him!Read more
There was so much to learn from this book. Mental health isn’t talked about anywhere near as much as it should be.Read more
I give this book a 3.75 stars out of 5.
It was a very quick read.Read more
In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, we get a look into a sixteen year old girl’s life as she deals with bipolar...Read more