REVIEW: A tragic kind of wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

TITLE: A tragic kind of wonderful
AUTHOR: Eric Lindstrom
PAGES: 281
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.


I started reading A tragic kind of wonderful by chance: I loved the title and I bought it. Actually I felt in love with both the title and the cover, which looks like a piece of modern art: some spots of colors on a white canvas. 

You know, I’ve always been attracted by “chaos”… and in this book I found my perfect world.
Confusion here is everywhere in Mel’s mind.
Mel Hannigan is 16 years old and she suffers from bipolar disorder, which makes her life unpredictable.  She can’t tell anyone about her disease, she doesn’t want her friends to treat her differently, like she’s ill.

“Sometimes I wish I knew what I was going to say in time to decide not to.”

Mel is a strong girl and her main feature is her kindness: she’s always ready to help everyone around her, no matter what. Even when she’s sad or angry.  And due to her bipolar disorder, her feeling any type of emotion could become a problem: when she’s not under meds or when she lives a particular event (like a fight or a date), all her moods are magnified. Her sadness becomes depression, her happiness turns into excitement and her anger makes her a fury.
At first I found it difficult to really understand her, but after some pages I was able to empathize with her: it was wonderful, intense and quite unsettling at the same time… I got how she thought and felt, nevertheless I could see what her family was living because of her. I felt sorry for them all. 

“You’re not bipolar, Mel. You have a bipolar disorder. You also have vibrant blue eyes, a wonderful personality, a tendency to undervalue yourself, and many, many other things. None of those things are you.”
“What am I, then?”
“A person who changes and grows all the time.”

A tragic kind of wonderful is a world of messy feelings. There’s cuteness and affection in Mel’s words when she talks about her brother and his theory that “everyone has a superpower” and there’s pain when she remembers his last day… She looks like a normal teenager when she’s with David and she realizes she’s in love with him, and then we have her friendship with Zumi, Connor and Holly and Declan… All this was intense, I have no other word to describe it.

“Being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back is a tragedy. A fantasy is having someone understand the real you and love you anyway.”

The only flaw of this book is the ending: it’s too short and the way Mel reaches her happy ending is too easy… I would have preferred something more profound (and maybe more realistic, since problems can’t be solved in two pages).

I strongly suggest this book to everyone who would like to live (like the title says) “a tragic kind of wonderful”.
And please, pay attention to the little analysis Mel makes about her physical and emotional conditions, it’s nice and it helped me a lot to sum up how she felt (at the beginning of each chapter you can find four animals that start with H: they represent Mel).

Have you read it? Would you like to? What do you think about it?


a tragic kind of wonderful, english review, eric lindstrom, Young Adult

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