This is a repost of a book review I wrote for my original blog on May 13, 2014. It appears here as/is.
I honestly don’t remember why I downloaded Ned Vizzini’s book, It’s Kind of A Funny Story. It was published in 2010 and has been turned into a movie, but I think it was intended for young adults. No matter. I found Vizzini’s book very engaging and entertaining, even though it’s basically about an adolescent male who struggles with depression and suicidal ideation and ends up in a mental ward.
Craig Gilner is fifteen years old and attending Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School. He’s a high achieving kind with visions of success and prosperity in his very bright looking future. Getting that success means getting into the right high school, the right college, the right grad school, and marrying the right person. So Craig works to achieve those lofty goals and soon gets weighed down by depression. Craig realizes that compared to his classmates, he’s not all that impressive. He stops eating and sleeping and one night, decides he’s going to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.
So he calls a suicide hotline. At first, he gets routed to a guy who doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing. The operator on the hotline tries to get Craig to do some exercises intended to reduce anxiety, but they end up making him more anxious. He hangs up and calls another suicide hotline and is advised to get to a hospital. He goes to the emergency room at a hospital two blocks from where he lives. He gets admitted to Six North, where he gets help. There, he meets people with some real problems… and isolated from his high pressure school, Craig is able to isolate the source of his anxiety and depression and change his life.
Author Vizzini has himself spent time in a mental hospital, so he’s able to make his story ring true. He injects a lot of humor into a story that could be bogged down with too much of a heavy subject. The end result is a very readable book that many people will relate to easily. I myself have dealt with depression and anxiety, but I haven’t yet spent time in a mental ward. I hope I never will experience such a thing… but I’m glad Vizzini was able to turn his personal experiences into a story that will help and entertain others.
Yes, this book is intended for teens from 9th grade up, but as a 41 year old adult, I also enjoyed it. That’s really saying something, because nowadays, I’m really more into true stories than novels. I would recommend It’s Kind of A Funny Story, particularly to young people who feel stressed about the future. Of course, most people worry about what’s coming next… but this book especially speaks to precocious teens and zany middle-aged people like me.
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