Friday, 19 May 2017

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful By Eric Lindstrom May Book of the Month

There has been such a stigma around mental health in recent years, and it has only been very recently that people seem to have been able to talk about their experiences surrounding the subject more openly. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is a novel that opens a persons eyes to the feelings that come along with such an illness.

tragic-kind-of-wonderful-book-cover

How can you have a future if you can’t accept your past?

Mel Hannigan doesn’t have it easy. Mourning the death of her firework of a brother, trying to fit back into a school she’s been conspicuously absent from and struggling to deal with the loss of three friendships that used to mean everything. Struggling to deal with a condition that not even her closest friends know about.

So Mel tries to lock away her heart, to numb the highs and lows, to live quietly without hope – but also without pain. Until someone new shows her that it can be worth taking a risk, that opening up to life is what can make it glorious…

And that maybe, Mel can discover a tragic kind of wonderful of her very own.

The story begins with Mel talking about her brother Nolan, remembering a time of happiness, a time of normality before everything changed...

Fast forward a couple of years and a now 16-year-old Mel Hannigan is trying to navigate her way through life the best she can but what others don't know is that she does this whilst dealing with bipolar disorder. Only her parents and her aunt,  and Dr Jordan (a one friend of her now deceased grandmother) even know about her condition. 

We see at the beginning of each chapter is a little description seemingly about animals e.g Hamster is Active, Hummingbird is Hovering, Hammerheard is Cruising, Hanniganimal is Up. What you come to discover as you read on is that these actually describe Mel's state of mind, how her heart feels and how she's doing physically, I guess a way of tracking whether her meds are doing as they should be. This also helps us a the reader understand her feelings and emotions.

We are reminded as the story progresses that we can all feel isolated at times, unable to talk to others and these feelings seem to intensify when you have rampant changing thoughts and moods. Mel feels unable to let anyone get to know who she truly is, bipolar and all. And it isn't just her mental state that she's keeping secret, as far as anyone else is concerned she's an only child.

It turns out that bipolar disorder runs in the family, her brother Nolan had it and her Aunt Joan (HJ) also lives with the disorder but mental illness isn't the same across the board, how it affects one person isn't how it affects everyone, no-one can truly know what it feels like to live with such differing feelings and emotions, and it must be especially hard dealing with it as a teenager when it is this time in our lives that hormones reek such havoc with our bodies.

Mel is not only trying to keep her emotions in check,  whilst delving into the idea of having a relationship, she's also dealing with a tragic amount of grief, it's so easy to say go and talk to someone, open up, to go and do it is a different matter entirely because there is always the fear that people will then treat you differently.

What Eric Lindstrom has managed to do with this novel is create a piece of literature that is heartbreaking yet inspiring. We see through all of Mel's ups and downs I'd say a fairly accurate portrayal of someone  living with this type of disorder. It is a coming of age story with a twist, one that gets you looking at not only how someone else might be feeling but how these feelings can affect us too.

You can't see what is going on in a persons mind and we can't always take there words and actions at face value, just because they are smiling on the outside doesn't mean that they are necessarily in a good place on the inside. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is definitely a book worth reading as it shows that you really can't judge a book by its cover!

2 comments:

  1. Popping over from #PoCoLo this sounds like a book i should be reading right now, espcially the part about looking at how someone elses feelings affect us too, thank you for sharing

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  2. I love a good book that you can get into, but sometimes when they end I feel bereft! Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo x

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