In Eric Lindstrom’s latest young adult novel, A tragic kind of wonderful, Mel is a beautifully complex young woman grappling with confronting decisions and emotions, navigating relationships with her family, friends and her internal ‘animals’.
Lindstrom’s use of a first person narrative allows the reader to experience the intensity of Mel’s experiences, memories and decisions as she tries so hard to navigate her present dilemmas and the omnipresent events that led to her brother’s death.
As much as Mel would like to curl up and withdraw from the world, her own spirit and those around her prove time and time again the importance of connections and taking leaps of faith.
Mel must face her greatest fears and be honest with herself and others to an extent that to her feels like jumping over a huge cliff.
Before I read this book I thought my review would centre on the ever present challenge Mel had with her Bipolar disorder. However I now feel that Eric Lindstrom presented Mel’s experience so empathetically that I understand how mental illness did not define Mel but was ultimately what made her and her bonds with family and friends all the more tragically wonderful.
This book shows us ways in which mental illness and traumatic events can impact individuals in similar and very different ways and the possibilities for hope that exist at the darkest of times.
A tragic kind of wonderful
by Eric Lindstrom
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and I want to share my connection and reading on this subject with you. It’s not something we talk about openly very often, but I find that the more I speak to people about mental health, the more I realise there are very few of our families or friends unaffected by some form of poor mental health.
Nao Brown has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but she’s unaware of this. To her the morbid obsessions, and other rituals and compulsions that she is quietly aware of, are different but no more. She is a young woman wanting to become a comic book artist, wanting a career, looking for love – really no different from most of us.
The Nao of Brown is a graphic novel which I chose partly because I enjoy comic books with good graphics, tick, and a good story, tick. That one of my loved ones also has OCD was coincidental, however it did give me another insight into how obsessions rule the mind. A very small insight. I really cared for Nao and wanted her to realise her dreams. An enjoyable story, not at all depressing, quite realistic and great graphics.
Reading Terri Cheney‘s Manic was a deliberate choice. Terri has bi-polar disorder, or, as she would have been labelled some years ago, is a manic depressive. Her mania started at high school; she got through university and made herself a career as an entertainment lawyer. She writes in an alarmingly frank way, which can be disturbing, but she delivers her story with hindsight and humour. She spent five years searching for the right medicine to get her brain stabilised from the illness. Years of highs that got her into some extreme situations and years of hard-to-comprehend debilitating lows – all of which have made her an amazingly strong woman. To survive what she has been through and write two books about it is a feat of courage.
Journeys with the Black Dog is a wonderfully apt title for a book of inspirational stories of bringing depression to heel. Written with raw honesty and sharp humour, it’s an encouraging reading for anyone coping with the “black dog”.
You have to admire the people who contend daily with some form or other of poor mental health and carry on, live their lives and frequently hold down jobs. Have you read similar books to these and gained some small idea of how it must be for someone with a mental illness? Talked openly about mental illness? Or felt it was perhaps too intrusive?