Author: Eric Lindstrom
Published: January 2017
Format: ARC Paperback
In the vein of It's Kind of a Funny Story and All the Bright Places, comes a captivating, immersive exploration of life with mental illness.
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.
First let me say a huge thank you to the amazing people over at Hachette Books Canada for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! When I saw the cover of this, I was so intrigued with reading it and seeing how another novel about mental illness would come out. I find that it sometimes is 50/50 and can go either really well or not.
Right from the beginning you get a little look into the past before Mel's story really begins. From that you're immediately brought into her life and how she's feeling. At first you don't fully understand the little messages at the beginning of each chapter, but when you do, it all makes sense! In a way Eric Lindstrom has given you both a story and a little journal entry tied together, and it totally works!
Personally, I felt like there were times when the story fell, or slowed down instead of picking it up, but it wasn't for a long period of time. In fact, I found myself reading it really fast! I felt like the story kept evolving, and you really see more to Mel towards the end.
As Mel's story develops more, enters in a love interest! Can I just say that they clearly have this uncommon bond, and it was kind of refreshing to see something so innocent, but at the same time so incredibly strong. For Mel, living with Bipolar disorder is the main obstacle in her life (which is evident) but you can tell there is more to it. There were times where I felt like she was so focused on her disorder, rather than her trying to live her life, it was almost too much. At the same time, there were a lot of moments that I could really connect with Mel, and I found a lot of her views on her friends and family to be pretty accurate!
Now let me get to the real talk of this book. Of course that means of me getting serious, as it deals with serious issues. I found that Eric Lindstrom did a great job at representing multiple characters and diverse characters on top of someone with a mental illness. He made it possible to showcase that everyone is capable of love, even if they have their own "baggage" as some would say. He showed that even if you have a mental illness, that doesn't always stop you from being yourself, nor does it mean that the people around you should treat you any different.
"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."
While reading Mel and her story and life, you see how much her mood changes, and how sometimes the smallest or largest things can change a mood so quickly. Her past friendships come back into focus, and you start to thread together little bits of how it formed, and why it disappeared. Personally, I felt like David really found a way to break through her shell, to really give her what she didn't believe the entire time. Although she was clearly afraid, he made her feel something better of herself, and I loved that!
Honestly this book has a lot of feels in it, but I felt like it could have been amped up a little bit more. I felt the raw emotion, but it was more towards the end, when you find out what happened in her past. It was totally powerful, and it really tells the story about bipolar disorder, and how people can feel at any moment in time. I didn't cry, but it was so hard to read some of what was written because it felt like I knew Mel, and I really knew what she was going through.
Some quotable moments in this book, really capture it as a whole and give you the strength and reality of it all...
"Battles are never won. Only survived."
"It would feel too rotten all the time, being sort of close but not really."
"When you're happy, you're the light in the room. And when you're sad, you're still the light in the room."
"Because now everybody knows I'm someone to treat differently. To keep an eye on. Can't relax around. Can't be themselves with. High maintenance."
Overall this book deals with a lot! I will admit there were a lot of funny, and lighthearted moments, but there were also a lot of hard, raw, sad, and empowering moments. From the beginning, you see someone who is trying to live her life day by day, when a wrecking ball comes in, and yet she has this inner strength to power through and define what it is to live with mental illness and not let it entirely run her life. I found this book to be one that everyone should read!
That's all for my review bookworms! I really hope you enjoyed it, and I definitely recommend reading it!
So until the next time, Keep Reading!!
Your Graduated Bookworm!! :)