The heart-rending and inspiring novel from the critically acclaimed author of NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST.
How can you have a future if you can’t accept your past?
Mel Hannigan doesn’t have it easy. Mourning the death of her firework of a brother, trying to fit back into a school she’s been conspicuously absent from and struggling to deal with the loss of three friendships that used to mean everything. Struggling to deal with a condition that not even her closest friends know about.
So Mel tries to lock away her heart, to numb the highs and lows, to live quietly without hope – but also without pain. Until someone new shows her that it can be worth taking a risk, that opening up to life is what can make it glorious…
And that maybe, Mel can discover a tragic kind of wonderful of her very own.
Title : A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
Author : Eric Lindstrom
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 346
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Harper Collins
Release Date : December 29, 2016
Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I’m trying to stow my gush a little but it is not easy. This book was a stunning and memorable read, delivering on a contemporary YA story with the best mental health representation I’ve read in a long time.
Mel has been through stuff, bigger stuff than most teens her age (16-17) have been through, losses, divorce and relocation. Oh yes, and getting to grips with diagnosis of a significant mental illness. Mel was a self-aware and strong teen, at least on the surface. She was endearing in her flaws and had a unique way to track her illness and moods. Each chapter begun with an mind-body-heart-overall update and it was so well thought out.
“I’m a different kind of mixed. Miserable and serene. Heaven and hell are the same place.”
Over this book I felt like I really got to know Mel, I wandered not only into her world but also into her mind and with that I felt sadness, frustration and compassion. The story isn’t all heavy-heavy, there’s plenty of lightness, especially in the first half. Friendships were a key factor in Mel’s mental compass and well-being, when they were right, she did okay but when things went wrong, life got more complex to navigate. Friendships from the past and those from the present had a direct impact on Mel’s life and I really enjoyed the slow unpeeling of where and how things with Annie, Zumi and Connor unravelled. I simply felt everything; it was very raw in the last third.
Another strength of this book was the family context. HJ, her mum, her brother and to a lesser extent, her dad brought such depth to Mel’s character and life. David was a friend to Mel and there was a low-level romance in this book that has the back-seat but is quite beautiful.
I don’t know why I hadn’t read this book before considering my love for his previous book NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST. Therefore, it’s no surprise to me that this book blew me away. Eric Lindstrom dealt with this particular mental disorder with thorough research. He addressed labelling, disclosure of diagnosis and I am in awe of the way he depicted life through Mel’s lens.
“You’re not [disorder name], Mel. You have [disorder name]. 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.”
Thank you Amazon vine and the publisher for this gifted title.