It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a moving and honest book, written by Ned Vizzini.
Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life, which means getting into the right high school and then into the right job. But when Craig achieves getting into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and has difficulty sleeping, and then one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode lands him in a mental hospital, where his new neighbours 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 and depression.
I’m a massive fan of the movie adaptation of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and now I can say that I’m a massive fan of the novel as well. I think I had known about this book for a while and I’ve wanted to read it for about a year, so I can’t believe I only picked it up just recently. I was going to wait until I had read the book before watching the movie, but I was in the DVD store and saw the DVD and I just couldn’t help myself. The novel had always sounded so interesting and so I bought the DVD and I think I watched it six times in the space of two days. That’s how much I loved it. And now I can say the same for the novel too.
Of course, books and their movie adaptations are bound to be different. For me, it’s strange watching a movie before I read the book. In every other case, I’m pretty sure I’ve made sure I always read the book before watching the movie, if I think it’s a book I would like to read. So to read a book and already have a clear image of the characters and the setting in my mind was actually quite a bit helpful. I already knew the characters by name and the general plot, so I feel like I got into this book extremely easily. It felt like I was rereading one of my favourite novels. And I know that next time I read this book, I’ll be doing just that.
My favourite thing about this novel was the important messages it brought to light. It talked about life and happiness and trying to make the most of the situation you’re in and if you don’t like where you are, you can change that. In that way, this book really reminded me of The Pause, which I also loved. The book was about depression without being depressing, which was a really great thing. Books about depression don’t always have to be sad, and I really learnt that in this book. It was filled with wit and inspirational messaged and it is ultimately about how that everything will turn out okay in the end if you do things that make you happy and simply live.
Here’s the thing about mental illnesses – they aren’t pretty, but having a mental illness or mental disorder doesn’t make you ugly. These illnesses are often debilitating and they cause harm to both the person with the disorder and the people around them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to live with your own mind and possibly eventually overcome your problems. I’m not saying that mental illnesses are a phase and that depression will end if you just ‘think positively’, but I genuinely think that surrounding yourself with things and people that make you happy will lead to a happier life. That’s what this book is all about. It’s about recognising the bad things in your life and the things that are keeping you from reaching your full potential and telling someone about how these things are making you feel and working towards achieving your full potential and making the most out of life. Everyone has their difficulties and problems in life, and if this book taught me one thing, it’s that you don’t have to face your demons alone.
Another issue that was faced in this book was how much pressure there is on children and teenagers to succeed, and how that is then often carried on into adulthood. Craig is under immense pressure and stress at his prestigious school and that leads him to feeling the way he does. That really made me think about all the pressure that is placed on people, especially teenagers, to do well at school and get a high paying job in order to live a meaningful life. However, that sort of a life isn’t for everyone and people have to understand that everyone has their own interests and pushing people into the types of things that they don’t enjoy is a real problem, as Craig comes to realise.
I really connected to Craig, like I did when I watched the movie. Like Craig, I have immense pressure and stress in my life to do well and achieve well in school because it will influence my life. I sometimes feel the same way as Craig does, not to that extent, but I can definitely relate to what he feels and the things he’s going through. Another thing I loved about Craig was how he had his own language for things. For example, ‘tentacles’ were the things holding him back from his real goals and ‘cycling’ is when his brain won’t turn off. Craig was a really interesting character and while I did think that he was being a bit of a player at times with all the different girls, he felt real and complicated and alive.
All of the other characters were also really interesting to get to know. I loved getting to know everyone from Smitty to Nia and found that they were all unique and all equally intriguing. I think the fact that Ned Vizzini himself has spent time in a mental hospital really helped when writing this book, because everything about this novel felt authentic and truthful. I loved every single detail of this book and I read it all in one sitting.
I found that this book was actually quite different to the movie. For example, I didn’t get to know Bobby as well as I did in the movie, however I did learn a lot more about Craig and his friends and his past. Ultimately, I can’t really say whether I liked the book or the movie more because I think that both are brilliant and I know I’ll definitely be watching and reading It’s Kind of a Funny Story again soon.
Overall, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is an intriguing, honest and even inspirational novel about depression without being entirely sad. I absolutely loved t’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini a score of 9.5 out of 10. I definitely recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading contemporaries that deal with major issues in a positive and honest way. What are you thoughts on this book? Are you considering reading it, and if you’ve already read this book, what did you think of it? Has anyone seen the movie adaptation? Let’s discuss!