Published: 2016 - by Harper Collins Children's Books.
Pages: 346.
Genres: Young adult / contemporary / mental health
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball Publishers SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
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.

I didn't know anything about this book before I opened it. I had heard of it, but vaguely and without context. So I had no idea what to expect.
But I'm so glad I did read it.

The writing is truly excellent. Tight, concise, profound; it's all of that and so, so powerful. But it's also intelligent, and the kind of thing you can't afford to just "switch off" from and catch up a few paragraphs later. You have to concentrate, and - *winces* - I think that was good for me.
In addition, the dialogue is witty, fresh, and realistic but without the fluff. It's sharp and interspersed with vivid characterisation, and there are some beautifully profound sentences.
For example, the sentence below struck me right in the feels. For some reason, when I read that line, I just started crying.

“Being in love with someone who doesn't love you back is a tragedy. A fantasy is having someone understand the real you and love you anyway.”

I haven't read many books about mental health and I'm definitely going to try read more from now on. It's something I've been personally affected by and exposed to, and I think it's something that needs to be talked about. I'm so glad this book addressed that topic and did it well. I thought Lindstrom's handling of mental illness in this context was brilliantly on point, and it was also an eye-opener for me in many ways.

The characters are all vivid and strong in who they're written as. But I personally felt like they could've used more development. Also, some of the more secondary characters tended to fade into the background.
There's plenty of diversity, which is awesome. One character's Asian, and LGBT themes are brought up.
I didn't love or hate Mel. Her struggle and emotions come across very real, raw, and gut-wrenching, but she isn't someone I easily found myself warming to. I rooted for her and I loved how real and honest her situation was, but I didn't particularly love her as a character.

The romance isn't amazing. Mel and David are very cute and sweet together, but theirs is kinda insta-love. I did love their adorableness and their exchanges, but I'm not madly shipping them or swooning over them. Oh! and although love came very close to "healing all", that was narrowly avoided.
I really liked how Mel's friendships with Zumi, Annie, Connor, developed - for better and for worse. The scenes with her friends (or perhaps, "so called friends") were always entertaining and gripping.
The friendships are very real, very relatable, and I really liked the dynamics of all the relationships in this book.

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful is a powerful novel that deals both sensitively and thoroughly with mental health, and I thought the handling of such a subject was the best thing about the book. The writing and characters are strong, but the subject matter is the most powerfully portrayed.  


  1. Nice that the writing (and the dialogue) are so good. I love it when I go into a book not knowing much and it works. Too bad the romance was a bit meh, but overall sounds great and nice that mental health issues were handled well also.

    1. It definitely is :)
      I know right, it's always such a nice surprise.
      It was good. I'd definitely recommend it :)
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. It sounds like this book is one of the realistic ones. You can't love the character completely, because she also has her flaws. The romance is good, but it isn't amazing because romances aren't always so. It sounds like the handling of mental illness was done well too. It has me pretty curious to read this one, and I hadn't heard of it before now either!

    1. Definitely is :) Yeah, agreed.
      You should read it, it's good!