“That’s all I can do. I’ll keep at it and hope it gets better.”
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.
To start this review, I’d like to say that I was rather (read as: more than) intimidated by this book. I’ve seen copies of this in every bookstore I’ve been to and I’ve yet to actually buy one for myself. Whenever I’d try to tell myself that, yes, this is a good book. I should give it a try! and pick it up and read the back cover, I’d put it back down and say, “maybe next time,” but knowing myself? “Next time” is a soft cushion for “not gonna happen, buddy.”
I was intrigued to read the book when a friend of mine bought a copy for himself and said–and I quote–“it’s the best book ever.” Consequently, he watched the movie and said it was a good representation of the book (and rightfully so.) So I decided to follow his footsteps and borrowed the book to see what his hype was all about. Stay with me, yeah? The actual book review is coming up.
Intimidation aside, I read the first 50 pages with ease. We have Craig, a very ambitious teenager, who freaks out about every single thing. His problems were subjectively small compared to most, but in his mind, it’s the end of the world. I’ve summarized his thoughts as concisely as I could and it goes a little like this: Good grades = good college = good job = good life = happyhappyhappy. Get one of those wrong? You’re out.
One thing that’s very interesting about this book is how raw it’s written. Suddenly you’re thrust into the mind of a clinically depressed and anxious mind of a teenager–but get this, the book is neither depressing nor full of anxiety. I believe there’s an art to letting your readers feel without the actual feeling, and Ned Vizzini has mastered it.
For a 400+ page book, I found myself reading through it quickly. I managed to finish the entire book in a span of 12-14 hours–with sleep in between! The book is not at all dragging. Though the problems and issues this book took up were serious, it was pretty easy for me to absorb what I was reading.
After reading the book, I watched the movie. It was portrayed beautifully. I think this is the first time I’ll ever say that the movie was better than the book. You get a better picture of the characters and what they go through. You get to see how much of a struggle it is for some people to do something so simple.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story has been added to our Recommendations page!
I highly recommend you read it and watch the movie.
Favorite quotes from the book:
“See, when you mess something up, you learn for the next time. It’s when people compliment you that you’re in trouble. That means they expect you to keep it up.”
― Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story