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.
Publishes in US: February 7th 2017 by Poppy
Genre: ya contemp
Source: Poppy via netgalley
Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC (advanced review copy). I am not paid for this review, and my opinions in this review are mine, and are not affected by the book being free.
Also read and reviewed by Eric: Not if I See You First
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I wanted to read A Tragic Kind of Wonderful because I am drawn to books with mental illness. I myself have bipolar disorder, and though Mel is a bit early to present from what I've researched, I can definitely see parts of myself in her and when she speaks of her brother.
It is hard to keep friends when you cycle through moods like you do with bipolar, sometimes even while on meds. I also have social anxiety and though I am on drugs for both, it is still hard to show my true self to others and maintaining close relationships when prone to go hermit for times, and always feeling like I am hiding parts of myself. I saw these things in Mel as well, and it was quite a journey to go through with her as she realized more about herself, faced hard things from her past, and struggled to not let herself push others away even in light of what she learned.
There were flashbacks, some of which I enjoyed and others I felt like were a bit disruptive. I get they were important scenes and integral to the story, but especially at the beginning I just felt like I was getting to know Mel, and it was throwing even more characters at me.
I liked the relationship with her new therapist, as well as the resident of the community home she works at. It is realistic and not at all let's wave a magic wand. The friendships were complex in this one and it was quite the journey to unravel what happened. There was a good amount of secondary characters, but they all served a purpose and they were well developed.
There was romance, but it didn't take front stage, and I liked that, because there was other things that were the focus.
Mel learned a lot about herself, her relationships, began to heal from the loss of her brother, started being okay letting others in, and telling them the truth. It was a character driven story with good development of the characters and I was pleased with the journey as well as the ending.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Is it hard for you to be your true self around others like Mel?