“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.” (Taken from Goodreads)
Honest. Funny. Inspirational. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is all of that and more. I’ve been eyeing this book for a few years now. I started a book club with some of my former students and we chose this as our first read. I’m happy to report that all of us loved it!
I started reading this thinking of it as mere fiction, but as I continued into the story, I started to question my original thought. Ned Vizzini included thoughts and details that felt extremely personal. But it wasn’t until I finished reading the book that I saw the last page where it’s explained that Ned spent time in a psychiatric hospital. To top it off, it says that he wrote this in less than a month after leaving the hospital! That’s absolutely incredible and explains why the story is so honest. It must have been a wonderful cathartic experience for him to write this, but also scary to have his emotions right out there.
Craig and all of the patients in 6 North are unique and entertaining. Craig struggles with depression and intense anxiety like many teenagers and adults. I found it interesting that while Craig was staying in 6 North, it seemed like he was helping the other patients more than he was getting help. But the support Craig shows for his peers proves to him that he can cope and make friends. Noelle, Craig’s love interest who displays her pain on the outside through scars, reignites Craig’s passion for art. This becomes Craig’s outlet and his anchor- his coping mechanism. I love that this is written into the story because everyone needs a healthy outlet, whether it be exercise or writing. I’d love to find out if Ned Vizzini discovered a love for art during his hospital stay.
A movie version of It’s Kind of a Funny Story has recently been released. I did enjoy the movie and recommend going to see it. If you’re hoping for an exact representation of the book, you’ll be disappointed. Small but important details were changed. The movie pretty much followed the basic story line and that’s it. Extra scenes were added to the story, and they were entertaining, but the movie ended up being enjoyable as a separate entity from the book. Nonetheless, hopefully people who haven’t read the book will want to do so once they see the movie!
I definitely give this five stars. If you haven’t read it yet, move It’s Kind of a Funny Story to the top of your TBR list.