Cover Image: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

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Member Reviews

I loved Eric Lindstrom's previous book "Not If I See You First" about a blind teen who wants to be a track star.  I thought he did an excellent job of writing a book from not only a teen girl's perspective but also one who is blind.  I was really excited when I saw that he had a new book out.  This book, "A Tragic Kind of Wonderful" is about Mel Hannigan.  She is bi-polar, something that runs in her family.  She tracks her moods in an interesting way - rating different things based on animal names.  She has been hiding her mental illness from friends - new and old.  In the story we watch Mel go from keeping things under control to spiraling out of control when things come to light that she wanted to stay hidden.  I myself don't suffer from bi-polar disorder but I have family members that do, and I felt the author did a good job in writing this book.  I enjoyed this book and watching Mel develop as well as learning what happened to her brother.  My favorite character was Mel's aunt.  She also has Bi-polar disorder but she handles things differently than Mel.  She is a fun character and I'm glad Mel has her in her life to support her and give her perspective.
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As we watch the main character grapple with bi-polar disorder and the death of her brother, I was happy to see that there was a positive light shining on the proper way to get the help that you need if struggling with the same or similar things. There were some problematic things relating to gay people (specifically her lesbian friend Zumi), which was something I strongly disliked. 
I felt that there were a lot of different plot points and topics covered, but none of them felt flushed and deep enough. 
Overall, I love seeing mental health properly represented, but everything else about the story fell a little short.
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I love reading about books that include mental health. I love how this book showed depression in its true form, how it's completely ugly, how you cannot just fix it. Mel showed so much strength in moving forward and trying to keep on going with her life. I enjoyed how present the family was there for Mel through it all.
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This book annoyed me on so many levels that I wanted her to flind herself off the bridge and forget that she even planned on getting better. As the pages moved forward, I kept thinking about what she might have done to her brother and my imagination ran so wild that I was giddy with excitement. And here it comes, and it's coming and then I'm highly confused and disappointed. Ugh! Noooo!!! Thats not how I wanted this to go. I need difference in my life and off the wall settings. You'll not find that here.
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Mel, afraid to alienate her friends, keeps her bipolar disorder a secret. But some symptoms are difficult to remain hidden. And she will soon discover that letting your best friends in, is way better than pushing everbody out. 

At first sight, I thought the story constantly shifted between timeframes (past, present, short term past), and I was glad to see it become linear as the story progressed. Mel dealt with many emotions caused by other life problems (family death, controlling friend, new relationship) that it was interesting to see her associate many of these rollercoaster feelings with her BD condition. I could tell the author placed a lot of energy in research and characterization. 

All in all, a good book.
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Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this title. Unfortunately, I have lost interest in the title, partly due to trusted reviews, and will not be reviewing the title. I have, however, promoed the title through my weekly recap with links to Amazon. Thank you again, and I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause.
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A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL by Eric Lindstrom explores the life of a teen trying to maintain friendships while dealing with mental illness.

Between the death of her brother, her parent’s divorce, and a bipolar diagnosis, Mel’s life has spiraled out of control. Trying to hide her problems only makes her relationships with friends more strained. The author’s authentic portrayal of a teen’s quest for acceptance is will appeal to many teens.

Librarians will find fans of Lindstrom’s NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST pleased with his latest title. Many teens are drawn to contemporary young adult novels focusing on friendship and overcoming obstacles. This title does a particularly good job helping young people better understand bipolar disorder.

Published by Poppy, an imprint of Hachette on February 7, 2017. ARC courtesy of the publisher.
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Did not care for this book at all. I couldn't get through it. It felt depressing and sad, and not something I would want my own children to read. Kids need more uplifting  stories.
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REALLY, REALLY loved the mental illness rep in this one, as well as the writing.
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They are so few books about mental illness for teens and even fewer about Bi Polar disorder. With a negative connotation, mental illness is often hidden by teens and adults. I would love for there to be more books about this disorder for teens. This book has interesting characters and situations that may help teens affected by mental illness and their friends. Cool cover too.
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I don't feel comfortable reviewing this title in detail or assigning a star rating, as I did not finish.
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I really enjoyed it, plenty of mystery concerning Mel's life. I only have it three stars because I feel like I can't really boast nor rant about it. It was just a good book, with fun quirky characters and a real feeling of having bipolar disorder through the eyes and narrative of Mel.
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It feels strange to say that I loved a book about teen mental illness, but I did love A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom. I think if I'd had the time, I would have read it in one sitting.

This YA novel tells the story of Mel Hannigan, who is learning to live with her bipolar disorder while making new friends, dealing with the death of her brother, and navigating high school. Mel also works at a nursing home, where she finds solace an d structure.

I found Mel's system for monitoring her mental illness completely fascinating. Each chapter begins with a list of each aspect she tracks and the status of each. As Mel's mood changes, so does her narration, which is a tremendously effective way to take the reader along in her mind.

This is not a lighthearted or fun read, but it was an emotional journey that read as authentic and touching. I can imagine that this would be an outstanding book for a teen to read to understand mental illness (or at least Mel's experience of it). Suicide is definitely a topic as well, so could lead to a good discussion with any teens in your life.
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It is fantastic to see mental health disorders being incorporated into YA novels and represented in an honest way.
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A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is a YA novel that tackles the important and complicated issue of mental illness. It is something many people live with and deal with on a daily basis, but do so in secret due to the fear of the stigma that may come along with it. Sixteen year-old Mel struggles with bipolar disorder and has hidden this part of her life from almost everyone in her life, apart from her parents, aunt and an old friend of her grandmother's. She keeps her friends at a distance, not letting them see the real Mel or know about a tragedy from her past that impacted her in a significant way. It is a difficult way to live and has led to an end of a friendship with a group of close friends, and while Mel develops new friendships there is a lot left to be resolved with those who were an important part of her life. When she meets a boy who she might be interested in a relationship with, the struggle between distancing herself and wanting to let someone in brings up many emotions she must come to terms with. 

This is a beautiful and heartbreaking novel. It portrays life with bipolar disorder in a real way, allowing the reader to see and feel everything through Mel's perspective. We get a thorough understanding of her struggles, thoughts, feelings, and desires. I particularly liked the way her relationships with those around her are described and portrayed, which gives an excellent look into the complexity of emotion and the constant instinct to protect oneself. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is a wonderful novel that takes on an important topic and does so really well. I highly recommend this one.
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I was really looking forward to this book since I do not have a lot in my library related to Bipolar Disorder. And I will probably buy it for that reason, but otherwise I did not really enjoy the book. While I did think it address a personal dealing with bipolar well, I wanted more. There was not a lot of depth to the characters, and none of them really impressed me as characters that were going to stand out or last for a long time. The characters I actually liked best were the residents at Mel's job! I will but this book, but only for lack of a better option at this point.
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For a more in-depth review check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHKBbBFjbWQ&t=4s

For Mel Hannigan every day is a struggle.  She has to accept her parents divorce, she is trying to recover from her brother's death, and she is learning how to deal with her bipolar disorder. Mel had given up her friends when she was diagnosed but now they're back and Mel must begin to deal with what happened when she was first diagnosed and what really happened to her brother.  

This book is difficult for me to review.  I loved Lindstrom's "Now You See Me" and I felt that the characters in "A Tragic Kind of Wonderful" didn't quite live up to those in the first novel.  Plus, Mel's bipolar felt a little too textbook for my tastes.  However, I liked the characters and their relationships in particular I appreciated a friendship between a female and male character that was in no way romantic.  This was definitely a good book but it just didn't quite get to great for me.
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Really a 3.5 rating

Sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan has bipolar disorder, a disability that affects every part of her day. After a tragic accident with her older brother, Mel has a full on manic breakdown causing her to miss school and lose her group of best friends.

Readers find Mel after some time has passed after her breakdown; she has a new group of friends and works at the senior living facility where her grandmother used to live. She also has a system for describing and cataloging how her bipolar disorder is affecting her at that moment in time. What she did not expect was how a new relationship as well as what having her old friends resurface would affect her.

To readers it is no secret that Mel has bipolar disorder. It is no secret that her brother and aunt both suffer from the same disability. What readers do not realize though is the whole series of events that really led Mel to have her breakdown. 

What I liked about this novel was how authentic it was. Lindstrom does a great job of showing how a disability like bipolar disorder can affect every part of someone's day. Readers actually get to be inside Mel's head as she goes through each day, and each chapter starts with her unique rating of how she is feeling. I found it to be a little unclear at first what those ratings meant at the beginning of each chapter, but a little ways in readers will get a brief explanation, one that they might miss if they aren't reading carefully. For me personally, this book felt very manic as I was reading leaving me at times wondering what was going on and feeling unsure of if I was really enjoying this book. On reflection, I think that this may have been part of what Lindstrom was hoping for; giving an authentic voice to a disability. I really enjoyed Lindstrom's previous book "Not if I see you first", and while this one didn't quite catch me like the previous did, I still recommend it for libraries where contemporary fiction is popular, or if you are hoping to add to your collections mental health novels.
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This is my favorite book so far this year. I love how it tackled mental illness. The characters were written so well that they felt real.
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Being 16 can be hard. Being 16 with a brother who committed suicide is even harder. Being 16 with bipolar disorder? Hard to even imagine. But that is Mel’s reality. She’s been taking medication for a year and it helps, but so much happened before that, and in an attempt to try to hide the past from her friends, she’s dug a hole she can’t seem to climb out of. Eventually, the truth starts unraveling, and with it, her tenuous grasp on reality. 

Having a history of mental health issues in my own family, in addition to grappling with them myself (anxiety and depression, I’m lookin’ at you!), I’m always attracted to fiction centered around that topic. As is often the case, it is comforting, and often enlightening, to walk in the shoes of someone who fights similar battles, even if that someone is fictional. And though more and more stories like this one are being written (as mental illness becomes a more “acceptable” and mainstream topic), they are still scarce, and more often than not, mental illness is present in a story as a cause of evil-doing – the psychopathic killer, etc. So, it’s nice to come across something contemporary, focused on the realities of mental illness, and a story that is YA. Because changing perspectives about mental health overall starts with how we approach the topic with younger generations. It is much easier to set the appropriate tone from the beginning than to try and fight misguided stereotypes in older generations. Point being, stories like this are important.

I liked Mel just fine. I understood her and related to her. But, until the end, I had a hard time accepting that she had bipolar disorder. I don’t have bipolar disorder, and I’m not an expert on bipolar disorder, but I understood so much about how she was feeling because of my own depression and anxiety, that I had a hard time accepting she had something so much more serious. Despite my own experiences of having to explain to people who don’t get it, of putting up with doubt, of essentially being accused of “making excuses”, being told that “everyone feels that way sometimes”, despite all of that, I still questioned her diagnosis. I kept having to remind myself that she was medicated, and that she was feeling all this despite the medication, that she was diagnosed by a professional and diagnoses of bipolar disorder aren’t handed out like candy. And that mental illness is a spectrum, even within a specific diagnosis. Then at the end, as she starts losing control, then it becomes obvious how much the medication was helping her. And I felt guilty for questioning, for not understanding. Because of my own situation, because of my family history, I should have understood. And if I couldn’t grasp it from the beginning, how could someone with no experience with mental health issues? 

And that is why stories like this are so important. So, so important. And why everyone should take the time to read them. It isn’t the most gripping story, or the most emotional. It isn’t funny or particularly exciting. You won’t be sitting on the edge of your seat or dying for a sequel. But maybe you’ll learn something and gain a little empathy. We’d all benefit from that.
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