A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful – Eric Lindstrom – Poppy – Published 7 February 2017



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?

My thoughts

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful was a must read for me after I read and absolutely adored Eric Lindstrom’s first book Not If I See You First. As a result, I went into reading A Tragic Kind of Wonderful with a mix of trepidation and excitement – could it possibly live up to Not If I See You First, would it be different??

And it is different in a way, but it carries that same incredible power. I’m not sure how he does it, but Eric Lindstrom has a knack for understanding the psyche of teenage girls and bringing that to the page.

Mel Hannigan has everything under control. No one outside her family and doctors know about her having bipolar disorder, she balances her meds, keeps track of her cycling and segments her life so her friends will never find out. But when old friends question her over how their friendship ended, a new relationship sparks and her moods start cycling faster, Mel may have to confront her past.

Eric Lindstrom’s writing style is incredibly powerful. Just like with Parker in Not If I See You First, the reader experiences Mel’s senses, moods and feelings right along with her. Her bipolar never has to be explained, it’s lived. This is Mel’s story. The story of her working through her past. The story of her friendships, past, present and future, and the people in her life, those who worry about her and those to whom she brings so much joy. I loved the colourful cast, especially the residents of Silver Sands assisted living. Everything is woven seamlessly together, despite how much is going on. And the romance is just icing on the cake, sweet and simple in the complicated way that is Mel. It never takes over the story, just compliments it.

The book alternates between present time and flashbacks to the past – sometimes many years ago to Mel’s childhood, other times more recently. In the present, Mel is hiding her bipolar from her friends. She’s also hiding a lot from the reader. What happened to her brother, what happened to break her apart from her old group of friends, why doesn’t she want people to know about how her mind works? There are some big surprises and heartbreaking reveals.

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is a beautiful and powerful novel, the perfect addition to the growing section of YA fiction that combines stories of young people, their lives, family, loves and journey with mental health.

The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Contemporary.

Themes: Mental health, Bipolar disorder, Family, Romance, Friendship, LGBT, Therapy.

Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.

Advisory: Frequent coarse language, f***, s***, sl**. Sexual references.

Published:  7 February 2017 by Poppy.

Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 288 pages.

ISBN: 9780316260060

Find it on Goodreads