It’s Kind of a Funny Story
by Ned Vizzini
Recommended Ages: 13+
At the risk of sounding too much like a trailer warning for the newest episode of Law & Order, I would like to preface this discussion by noting that the themes of It’s Kind of a Funny Story may be of a more sensitive nature for some people out there.
Craig Gilner is a fairly typical American teenager living in New York trying insanely hard to get in to an exclusive upscale high school that will cement his high-powered future career in stone. But upon entry to the illustrious Executive Pre-Professional High School, Craig discovers anxiety any driven young student is likely familiar with and unfortunately, it overwhelms him to the nth degree.
A last minute decision stops Craig from jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge and instead finds him checking himself into the local mental hospital where the latter half of the novel takes place. During his brief stay there, Craig is exposed to people from a wide array of ages dealing with problems exactly like and completely opposite his own as he learns to deal with “the Cycling” of anxious thoughts inside his own head.
What I appreciated most about this novel was that it was the first time I’d ever read or heard about someone else experiencing the same type of anxiety I myself had felt in high school. While I personally never experienced depression on the same level that Craig does, his story reflects a growing trend in the United States (and I’m sure elsewhere around the world) of kids putting a tremendous amount of pressure on themselves to perform well academically because society preaches that it must be the ONLY way to succeed in life. Perhaps I’m just a post-grad kid over empathizing with a character, but it was comforting to read about Craig’s story and even that of his friends who also suffer from depression, and to know that it’s okay to express these fears. This book will certainly make you feel like you are not alone in whatever struggle you’re facing.
And because I don’t want to make this book sound like only a completely serious read, I absolutely have to note that despite the deeper themes presented, the book comes off as a fairly light read throughout. Craig is a witty guy with a fascinating thought process behind his actions and the characters he meets during his stay in the hospital are vibrant and lively. Just as there are plenty of deeply personal or intellectual ideas to consider, there are just as many laughs and heartwarming spots as well. I will not give away the ending, but in case you’re worried this book will leave you feeling totally down, I can promise you that instead, you’ll likely feel uplifted and happier for having read it. It’s worth the read and the laughs that are certain to come with it.
Guest blogger is Sierra Davenport, MuggleNet Social Media