Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Mental Illness
Published: April 1st, 2006 by Miramax
Hardcover, 444 pages
How I Got The Book: Checked it out from the library
Why I Picked It Up?: I have been meaning to read this book for a while. When I found out that he passed, I figured it was really time to get serious and pick this book up.
Book Jacket Blurb: “Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life — getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job — Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy.
At his new school, Craig realizes that he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig 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, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a moving tale about depression, that’s definitely a funny story.”
There are some stories that are written that seem forced, they seem to have an agenda, to try and convince you of some fact or cause. This story is not one of those. This is a story of reality, of truth, of heart. This is a story of life, just life, the not-so-good, the really-bad, and the maybe-hope. This is the raw grit of life, showing nothing more or nothing less than reality for some.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is one of those books that draws you in from the very beginning. This is the story about Craig, a 15-year-old high school freshman who is having a pretty rough time. He is severely depressed and trying to overcome it through therapy and marijuana. Neither of these things seemed to help, and Craig decided to kill himself. But before he left the house for the bridge, he read one of his mom’s books, which led him to call the Suicide Hotline, which led him to check himself into the hospital. And there, he begins to work through his issues in a positive way.
I have not really read too many YA books that are predominantly about depression/mental illness, and this one was the first that actually featured professional help (not that there are not more out there, this is just the first one I have stumbled across). Asa book about mental illness, I am glad that Ned Vizzini decided to feature the psychiatric hospital as well as therapy. I know that Mr. Vizzini wrote this book after spending time in the psychiatric hospital himself, and I think that is why this book rings full of realism. Mr. Vizzini captures the raw emotions of such a story in such a real, believable way.
The cast of this novel was really great and realistic. Each of them encompassed different aspects of human reaction to mental illness. You have our main man, Craig, who understands that his problems are real and treats them as real. Craig’s family shows both concern and support for their son/brother as he makes the decision to commit himself. They are such a supportive family, which is encouraging, especially when Craig was so hesitant to really reach out to them. Craig’s “best friend”, Aaron, is a friend that shows no support but has a change of heart after he understands exactly what is going on. . Nia represents the more manipulative people in your life, who uses your weaknesses and struggles for personal gain. Noelle represents hope for change and better relationships and a hope for getting better. And the other patients in the hospital each add color to the story and awareness for mental health.
Craig’s maps and the power of art therapy. I love the surprise that I incurred when I realized just what the cover was depicting! All of a sudden the cover fit the book 100% beautifully, and I just love when that happens. Craig draws maps to better understand the world around him, and to also help the other patients understand and see where they belong in the world. This aspect of the story is truly a beautiful one.
Overall, as my first introduction to Ned Vizzini’s work, I am thoroughly impressed. He has written a very important and truthful story that needs to be shared with everyone. This story is powerful and real, and I think that a lot of readers can really connect with this novel.
My Bookshelf Rating:
The title and the cover match this book 100%, and I absolutely love that! This story is completely approachable, in spite of the heavy subject matter. This is such a realistic story with a main character that you immediately connect with. With underlying humorous tones, Craig’s story is one that every teenager should read. It really sheds light on some real emotional and mental issues and portrays some alternative solutions not always talked about. Ned Vizzini writes from the heart, from a raw and real place, and the characters he writes are developed from that place, and they are beautiful and real and true. This story is a story of truth, and it needs to be read and shared and passed on.
Love and Lemonade,