A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom, Poppy (February 7, 2017). ISBN: 9780316260060. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.
Right from the opening page, you begin wondering just what in heck happened to Mel Hannigan’s older brother Nolan. You know he’s dead and that the fallout included her parents getting divorced and she and her mother moving 100 miles away, but what really happened is dribbled into the rest of the story like sand slipping through an emotional hourglass.
Mel has bipolar disorder, the rapid cycling kind and is further afflicted with what is called Dysphoric Mania-strong depression with accompanying manic energy, a condition that can be scary and lethal. She’s just lost a year of her life, along with the three friends who saved her after the move. Her obsessive need/belief that hiding her illness is necessary in order to have any life or friends essentially cost her those friends and her rigidity surrounding her feelings toward them and her fear about coming clean, create an invisible prison that just seems to exacerbate her denial.
It isn’t until she finds a boy, David, whose grandmother is moving into the assisted living facility where she works part time and they start to connect, that the rigidity starts showing cracks. How it eventually crumbles takes readers through intense pain, a few scary situations and some teeth gritting over Mel’s refusal to let go of certain beliefs and behaviors.
The author may have tried packing too many scenes and ideas into the story, but as a former mental health professional who worked with teens, I found it a darn good read and one worth handing to young adults struggling with emotional issues or who have friends who are.