A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

Eric Lindstrom

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
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A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

Eric Lindstrom

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.


Eric Lindstrom, author of the bestselling novel Not If I See You First, has produced another book with an intriguing title and a gritty, determined narrator. Mel Hannigan is a sixteen-year-old girl who has a lot to deal with, including the bipolar disorder that she manages daily with medication and a mood diary. Her mum is her number one ally – they have both seen the damage wreaked by the illness on her aunt and her brother, Nolan. The family history of bipolar meant that Mel was quickly diagnosed a year prior, but it’s still a secret she keeps from her friends.

It quickly becomes clear that Mel is hiding more than her illness. She believes she is able to turn off any upsetting memories – in particular the circumstances of her brother’s death two years prior.

Since then, her parents have divorced, and Mel, her mum and aunt have moved house. Mel started high school and let her new friends believe she had always been an only child.

Mel is such an engaging narrator that it’s easy to get swept up in this book. She is warm and funny, and Lindstrom has a talent for great dialogue. I felt protective of Mel and wanted to tell her to relax and stop hiding so much from her psychiatrist, friends and potential boyfriend. As a reader, it’s evident that Mel is going to have to stop running from the past and face the truth about what happened to Nolan.

This is a book full of surprises, with almost too much going on at times. I would recommend it for readers aged 15 and up. It’s a testimony to the kind of bravery many teens show in dealing with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues.

Annie Condon is a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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