Tuesday, July 04, 2017

REVIEW: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

Oh wow. I absolutely adored A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstom. I had only read the author's debut book, Not If I See You First, earlier this year and I loved that too. So I requested A Tragic Kind of Wonderful based on the strength of his first book.  But when I found out that his new book is about a girl with bipolar disorder? I was immediately intrigued.  Books involving mental illnesses are amongst my favourite and I wanted to see how Eric Lindstrom would tackle the subject.  The result? was this wonderful, messy glimpse into Mel's life.

I say 'messy' because there's so much going on in this book.  It's obviously about Mel and Mel has bipolar disorder.  And while I loved the representation of that aspect of her life, I also really loved that the author explored Mel's life in so much other detail without it being too much, too heavy or too confusing to follow so many different strands to the story.

Because not only does Mel have bipolar disorder (that she was only diagnosed with recently!)  but she's also dealing with the grief of losing her older brother several years ago.  She's fallen out with her previous circle of friends once she was diagnosed because of her fear of them rejecting her but she's got a new set of friends now and she's wondering if she should admit her condition to them or risk losing them like the last bunch?  She's got kind of a complicated relationship within her family, especially with her aunt who also has bipolar disorder and a much different view of living with this illness.  AND! she meets a cute boy through one of the residents of the retirement home where she works. I loved how all the elements of this story are pulled together, I love that Eric Lindstrom provides this great, realistic glimpse into Mel's life, including all of the complications. Real life is messy and complicated and Mel's story reflects that.  And I hugely appreciated that.

Obviously bipolar is something that features strongly in this book.  Something that is brought up in this book which I hadn't seen before is this middle bit of bipolar which is in between the depressive episodes and the mania (the highs and lows!) and I don't think I've seen that written about or explored the way this book did.  Mel begins each chapter by comparing different aspects of her condition (mood, heart rate etc) with different animals and through the four different elements works out what type of state she's in and I found it all to be quite fascinating.  She's also seeing a therapist and I loved sitting in on some of those appointments.  Throughout the book, Mel also brings up her thoughts on medication and her Aunt has an opposing view which provided an interesting contrast.

There are some incredibly emotional aspects of the book that I felt were down to the great characterisation and also the great relationships.  In particular, I loved Mel's relationship with her aunt just because they're so different and it was interesting to me to see two people with bipolar but had such wildly differing experiences and opinions on how to deal with this disorder.  I also loved David, the love interest.  There's a great mini-story line that includes a toxic relationship which I found intriguing but I think my favourite relationships, by far, included Mel's relationships with the people that she works with in the retirement home. Silver Sands retirement home had some wonderful characters and Mel's friendship with retired psychiatrist, Dr. Oswald had me in tears.

This is such a wonderful book.  I loved so many elements of this book that I feel like I could talk endlessly about this book.  But I won't. I will just recommend it very highly!


  1. Great review! Glad to know that bipolar disorder is highly prominent in this book - I haven't read any books that feature a character with bipolar disorder, but I'm really interested!

    Cass @ Words on Paper

    1. I hadn't until maybe last year either but my dad had bipolar and that makes me even more intrigued to explore the disorder in more depth!


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