Book Review: It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini

kind_of_a_funny_story_coverI came across this movie a few weeks back when a close friend and I decided to watch it as a close to our Friday afternoon. The movie was great in its portrayal of the characters so I picked up the book to immerse myself a step further.

I loved this book. To be frank it’s about teens and it discusses suicide, depression, drugs, and sex, but it’s a beautiful story, with an important message-sometimes it takes a fall to the very bottom in order to pick yourself back up again to get to the top.

Craig shares a story akin to many teenagers nowadays. He’s overly stressed out and pushed to the edge. He has a seemingly bright future ahead of him, but is unable to cope with his mounting stress and begins to consider suicide as one of the last options. Thankfully, instead, he chooses to call a local suicide hotline the night that he was planning to execute his suicide, where they direct him to check himself into the hospital for his own safety. To his parents’ alarm, he checks himself into the mental hospital, the only problem to him being that the teen ward is shut down, forcing him to live with the adult patients where he meets a host of interesting and- not to say the least- crazy characters.

The story that is woven is touching and heartfelt, and surprisingly uplifting for one that is about depression. It strikes many chords with the reader and holds many relatable aspects for anyone who has struggled with depression; on the other end of the spectrum, painting a realistic and tangible picture for those who have not.

The characters were all well written, thought provoking, and real to the point of being relatable, each of them holding an impressive back story of their life. I feel like the fact that the author himself was self-admitted to a mental hospital, makes this book a direct reflection of his experiences, and the characters projected through that are the immediate distinction. It’s one thing to write about such a serious subject from the standpoint of just research, but another to openly admit the personal stay in the ward and grow from the experience, reflecting it in the writing. This makes for a fully tangible approach to the story, where everything is bitingly real, yet incredibly touching.

This book is about suicide, but it’s not depressing; it’s uplifting to say the least- a reminder to give yourself some perspective and realize that however horribly messed up it may seem, you may really need humor as the best way to cope.

One of the aspects that struck me the most was Craig’s personal upbringing. This wasn’t a story where Craig’s hard life was too much to handle; he lived in a family that had a supportive and loving mother, father, and younger sister. He wasn’t in a broken household, and was actually quite privileged, which made me glad that the author was able to illustrate that mental illness does not discriminate. That mental illness is not a problem with the person, but instead on in a balance of chemicals in the mind. Even the most stable person can suddenly become depressed and the author effectively diffuses the cloud of stigmatism that one would encounter surrounding mental illness in the real world.

Through this light-hearted read, you’ll be able to touch on lessons that you may have forgotten, to be reminded again, while following Craig’s story. It is a story that touches on things that are not normally discussed in life, but are nonetheless important, painting an uplifting and humorous shade to the normally stigmatized and rarely discussed subject.

-Sophia U., 12th grade

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