Author: Ned Vizzini
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health/Illness
Date Published: May 1, 2007
Publisher: Miramax Books
Retail Price: $9.99 USD
Page Count: 144
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. (Goodreads)
This is a story that really makes you think about your own life. What are YOU gonna do to get through your struggles at the moment? What are YOU gonna do to prevent them? These are some of the things Craig Gilner had to think about as he goes through the process of healing himself. The book is about self improvement, and even though you may not be as “screwed up,” as Craig and a few of his psychiatric hospital friends like to say, you still have things that bring you down. And this book is talking about when life gets you down. It gives you such motivation that you can get over the small things in life.
Craig Gilner is a kid who wants to do good in life. And to do good in life, to him, you have to do good in school but in a good school and that means do whatever it takes to get into that good school, this will lead you to a good college. He’s a smart kid, someone that a lot of people can relate to with any of his many sides, because he has a lot. I love love love that our main character is so dynamic. He has the smart kid in him, the hard working kid, the determined kid, the lazy kid, the sad kid, the happy kid, the fun kid, and even the depressed kid in him. And that is the kid that we follow the most through the plot.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is like If I Stay meets Mental Health/Illness with the way the plot is set up. There’s a lot of flashbacks and memories that Craig goes through to explain how he got this state of his in the first place. This causes the beginning of the story to move very slow because the build up and introduction of everybody takes a long time to get through. Its all worth it though, beccause once the story gets settled on what we all are waiting for, you start to rush through aching to know how everything is going to end up. And I love what it all lead up to. I’m actually so proud of Craig and really everyone in the hospital no matter where their levely of “okay”ness is because they’re all working and trying.
As I said in the beginning, this story is so heart warming and raw that it makes the reader want to change, but that doesn’t mean its also this heartbreaking story of overcoming depression. The title does have the word “funny” in it, so I wouldn’t want to give false advertisement and make you think you’re going to be sobbing, because I don’t think you will. Its just a nice, self improvement and empowerment story that I think everyone should read. The thing that makes the reading so honest and actually helpful to the plot is the fact that the author wrote this shortly after checking into psychiatric hospital himself. Just knowing that made it feel so real to me.
The last thing I want to talk about is the characters. We have a very large cast, and they’re all important to us because they are important to Craig. Craig (and the author) is great at describing lots of things that he sees, especially people. We get a really good feel for how each patient acts and looks because Craig tells us. We have all the information we need to be inside our main character’s shoes. This also helps us see all the character development that goes on within people. Some people you don’t expect to see it in, but its everywhere and I’m so thankful for it.
“‘Think of your talents. Think of all the tools you have. From your hands down to your feet.'” (189)
“‘Why hide what you’ve been through?'” (283)
“‘I thought making out was having sex.'” (77)
“I don’t like to spend money. Every time I spend it, I feel as if I’m being raped.” (235)
“‘You don’t have any shoulds or woulds in your life, see? You only have things that could have gone a different way.'” (146)
“Beware of penis” (217)
“‘I think… she’s just one of these girls who’s never really not had a boyfriend.’ ‘Sometimes we call those girls sluts.'” (359-360)
“‘Your name isn’t Craig; it’s Human Being too'” (388)