It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is a novel I really struggled with sorting out my feelings about. It covers some very rough subjects and there is a definite trigger warning for anyone who suffers from depression or has suicidal tendencies. Sadly, the author himself was afflicted with mental illness and he ultimately ended his own life soon after I had read this book. This is why I have such a hard time expressing my feelings toward Craig’s story which now feels that much more personal. Vizzini also spent time in a mental hospital in New York City prior to writing Craig’s story which is a sort of parallel to Craig’s outlet. I loved finding out the significance of the cover and that’s the part of the story that hooked me.
The book follows Craig who is a teenage boy that gets accepted to attend a prestigious all boys high school full of people who’s intelligence levels match or surpass his own. Criag is initially excited for the opportunity but when he is no longer the top student in his class, he begins having a very difficult time adjusting. He becomes so stressed out that he cannot keep any food down and he can no longer sleep at night which results in a suicide attempt. This event leads to Craig being checked into a mental hospital so he can begin taking steps to improve his mental health. There were so many parts of this book that I found difficult to read because I felt so awful for Craig and being an outside observer, it was challenging for me to hear his thoughts and not be able to offer him any type of comfort. Not that it would have helped, but I really wanted to hug him and tell him that life after high school is so much better. It’s always upsetting to see an intelligent young person feel like there’s reason to live or no change they could make to improve their situation.
I think It’s Kind of a Funny Story is an accurate portrayal of depression and the throught process that goes along with it. Craig’s therapist has taught him to identify different elements of his life and contributors to his depression as Cycling, Anchors and Tentacles and it’s a really interesting system. The majority of the book takes place in a mental hospital and while there is definite humor intended regarding some of the patients, it’s difficult to feel okay laughing about it. I did enjoy how Craig seemed like such an outsider among the patients but the longer he stayed in the hospital, the more he realized that many of the other patients were not so different from him. It’s also difficult to read the scenes involving Craig’s mother and little sister because their pain toward Craig’s unease shines through their attempted support. Without spoiling anything, I very much enjoyed the ending of the book despite the discomfort I felt on the journey there.
Final Thoughts: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is a story about depression and anxiety that is a definite challenge to read at times. The book will make you feel uncomfortable and categorize elements of your own life. Despite the serious subject matter, there is plenty of humor interwoven but be warned that this is a very heavy read.
Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness. (via Goodreads)