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

February 13, 2012

Teenager Craig Gilner only wants one thing: success. That means getting into a good high school and then a good college. He’s accepted into the very selective Executive Pre-Professional High, reaching his first goal. But the academic pressure on Craig at his new school is heavy. He stops eating and sleeping, until it gets to the point where he nearly kills himself. Craig checks himself into an adult psychiatric hospital, where the details and descriptions are specific and realistic. Ned Vizzini wrote this book from his personal experience: as a teenager, he spent five days in Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It helped me to know that.

The lead takes the reader right into the story. It starts with the observation, “It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.” This brought me right into Craig’s world. A couple of chapters into the story, I learned more about Craig’s background.

I think that what Vizzini does in this book with character development is effective. Craig has the normal teenage angst. But then he can’t stop thinking about failing. Once he is checked into the hospital, I could immediately infer that Craig would change. What happened in the end left me satisfied, knowing that Craig—or Vizzini—gets better and stays that way because of a newfound passion that saves him.

The characters in this book are phenomenal. Craig is the main character, obviously, but the supporting characters are important and funny people. They include Noelle, a mysterious girl who has scarred her own face with scissors; Humble, a man who doesn’t care what comes out of his mouth; and Bobby, a past “garbage head” who needs Craig’s help.

The theme that emerges from this story is that it gets better. Craig is thinking about killing himself, but he gets help and it saves his life. Another theme of this novel is to do what makes you happy. Craig thinks that all he wants is money and power, and then he realizes these goals are only making him crazy and depressed.

I’d say the genre of this book is roman à clef. I rated it a ten. The pace is fast, and both boys and girls will enjoy it. You will not be disappointed if you read It’s Kind of a Funny Story.


Hyperion, 444 pages

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