Author: Ned Vizzini
Blurb: 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.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about fifteen year-old Craig who suffers from depression and after having suicidal thoughts, calls a suicide helpline and gets admitted into a psychiatric hospital. In there, he meets a whole range of patients, suffering from different mental conditions. He tries to make the most of his time but more importantly, he tries to get better and turn his life around.
This book has been on my TBR list for some time and I bought myself a copy not long ago and finally got around to reading it and what an outstanding read it was. Craig’s depression is very much the fore-thought of the entire novel, written from Craig’s POV but it was extremely eye-opening to read abour how Craig percieves his world. I did feel for him, and didn’t want him to go through what he went through and thoroughly rooted for him to finally find happiness.
The other characters in the hospital were absolute gems and I think, helped Craig towards his road of recovery. They were fantastically written characters; ranging from a transvestite, a nutty college-professor, a Egyptian who never leaves his room and a girl who cut her own face with a pair of scissors. Although obviously quite tragic cases, they definitely bring an element of humour to an otherwise quite dark story.
That’s one of the most prominant things about this novel for me; is the fact that despite the sensitve topic the novel revolves around, it’s actually quite humerous in more ways than one. It was a fairly light-hearted story, with it’s darker scenes of course but not a story to stray from thinking it’s too, in need of a better word, “depressing”. However, it does have a very strong message about how pressure can affect teens and young adults; school, friends, grades, exams, fitting in and although seem like trivial problems, can have a lasting negative effect on an individual.
Despite not having suffered with depression, I do believe this is quite a accurate portrayal of not only your thoughts and feelings but the feelings of those around you who may not fully understand what you’re going though. For example, when Craig’s best friend Aaron says, “I think I might have that depression thing”. I did find some scenes and thoughts that Craig had hit home quite hard for me, because of person experiences. Which I won’t go into here but that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? Being able to connect with a book on different levels and sharing thoughts and feelings with the characters.
What an incredibly powerful, moving and life-affirming read about depression and mental illness. Made all the more so by the authors devastating suicide. It was such a bizarre feeling, reading a book about the very thing that took over his mind in the end. Rest in peace, Ned and thank you for writing such an amazing book that probably has and will inspire and help generations to come.
Note: And please, if you’re suffering with depression or any sort of mental illness, tell someone. Tell your parents, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, reative or friend. If you don’t want to tell any of them, tell your doctor. If you don’t want to tell your doctor, call a helpline. There is and will be someone out there who can help you and you don’t need to suffer by yourself.
You can call the Samaritans on: 0845 790 9090 or visit the NHS Mental Health Helpline page to find the number that suits you: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mental-health-helplines.aspx
A solid 4.5 out of 5 stars