It’s Kind of a Funny Story – book review

It's Kind of a Funny Story

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!

The Pause – book review

The Pause

The Pause is a breathtaking and thought-provoking novel, written by John Larkin.

Declan seems to have it all: a loving family, great friends he’s had for years, and a beautiful and amazing girlfriend he would go to the end of the earth for. But there’s something in Declan’s past that’s haunting him. It lies in his subconsciousness and attacks him when he’s most vulnerable. Declan feels as though there’s nothing that will take away the pain that he’s suppressed for so long. So he makes the only decision he thinks he has left – the decision to end it all.

Or does he? As the train approaches and Declan teeters at the ends of the platform, two versions of his life are revealed. In one, Declan watches as his body is destroyed and the lives of those who loved him unravel. In the other, Declan pauses before his jump. And this makes all the difference.


The Pause. Wow. How do I even begin to describe how I felt about The Pause? Don’t get me wrong, this book wasn’t perfect and I have my criticisms, but this book made me think. Like really, properly think. If I had to choose my favourite thing about reading books, it would be that they make me think – they make me think what it would be like for the characters, they make me think what it would be like living in different worlds, they just make think. I love nothing more than a book that will cause me to question things, and these are the types of books that stay with me long after I’ve read the Acknowledgements. And yes, I’m one of those people that read the Acknowledgements. A lot of the time, I just don’t want the book to end, you know? I feel as though I want to read every single word the author has written. Aaaanyway, back to The Pause.

This book made the reconsider everything I’ve thought about life and death. Sounds pretty deep, right? This book is a deep book. And I know, deep books aren’t for everyone. Some people think deep books are too sad or too confronting. I’d be lying if I said this book was neither sad nor confronting. It was both, but in the best possible ways. The reason why I picked up this book was because it felt so close to be, from just reading the blurb. I, too, have a past that often haunts me. I, too, have some things I’d rather forget. I, too, have sometimes been so buried in my emotions that it feels like I’m suffocating and that I needed to breathe and that the only way I could do that was to escape – forever. Everyone has bad moments in their lives, I know that. Unfortunately, a few of my close friends are depressed – one of them has been particularly suicidal, like Declan – and so I felt really connected to this book. And this book isn’t all sad and gloomy, it’s filled with wit and humour and its ultimate message is that the only way to find a way out of the darkness is to pause, and to live.

One of my criticisms with this book is how graphic one particular scene is. I’m not going to say too much about this scene because I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read the book, but just be warned, there is one very confronting and graphic scene. I don’t usually get affected this much by particularly graphic scenes in books, but this one just seemed particularly nasty. I’m going to give you a heads up to mentally prepare yourself for pages 54 – 56 if you’ve got a paperback edition with the above cover, it might be slightly different for other editions. Let me tell you, I wouldn’t have thought I needed a heads up for this part of the book, but I’m telling you, just watch out for this part of the book. I didn’t want to stop reading the book in this part though, because I felt as though I owed it to the book to read every single word and not skim over the confronting parts, but that meant I felt like I was literally going to throw up and I had to make a hasty retreat to the bathroom. Luckily, I didn’t get to say hello to my dinner once again, but just know that if you’re easily affected by graphic scenes, and even if you don’t think you are, please watch out for this one.

One thing that I was slightly disappointed about in this book was the fact that we got introduced to lots of characters that seemed really interesting, but then we never heard from them again. Some of the people that Declan meets are hardly in the book at all and I felt as though I would have liked to have heard more about them, or at least get some indication to not be expecting them to turn up in the rest of the book. But who I did really enjoy getting to know throughout the book was Dec’s family. In the beginning, I didn’t feel connected to Dec or his family, or even his girlfriend, and that meant that when he was going to commit suicide, I still cared, I just didn’t feel like I knew him and that would have made it a whole lot harder. But I do understand that the suicide aspect had to happen early on in the book in order for everything else to take place after it.

So Declan’s family played a major part in this book and I really enjoyed getting to know his mum, his dad and his sister. The family dynamics were hilarious a lot of the time. Because this book was told over a number of years, I felt as though I watched Declan and his sister grow up, and his parents change, and that was very unique. I don’t think I’ve read many books – or any others – that do the kind of thing that The Pause does. The same goes for all of the other imperative characters in the novel. I loved getting to know all of the characters, Declan in particular, and I felt like I knew him really well by the end of the novel.

This book is told from different times in Declan’s life, and not always in chronological order. This made the book both unique and very suspenseful. We didn’t know everything that had happened with Declan in his past in the beginning, and slowly getting bits of information throughout the book before the ‘big reveal’ was really enjoyable. I didn’t expect this book to have the slight air of mystery that it contained, so I was pleased about the involvement of that, however terrible the actual ‘incident’ was. One of my favourite parts of this entire book was that one of the last chapters was told from nine years after, and the one before that was eight years after. I loved how this book was written in that way because it really adds perspective to everything – the lives of the characters, and just life in general. For example, it shows all of the characters grown up and it makes you, as well as Declan, realise all the things he would have missed out on had he have chosen suicide.

This novel not only shows you how Declan’s life played out when he didn’t chose suicide, but it also makes you think about the worth of your life and everything there is to come. The Pause reinforces the fact that we only live once. No matter what you believe in, the life that you have now will be the only life like this you will ever have, so don’t give up on it. No matter how hard may seem and how tired you might feel, you have to know that life it worth living and that the people you love and the things you love aren’t worth dying for – they’re worth living for. Life is made up of tiny moments – happy moments, beautiful moments – and in order to have these moments and get out of the dark you have to pause. You have to live. I love this book so much for what it has helped me to realise once again. While depressing and heavy in parts, this book is ultimately an inspirational one filled with messages of hope and love and a better tomorrow.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. The thing I loved most about this book was its themes of love, hope, and making the most of life. This book can be very sad in parts, so I would be cautious about picking it up if you don’t cope well with books with some depressing and dark themes. However, I definitely think this book is worth reading because it’s ultimately very inspirational and it gave me a very positive outlook on life. I’d give The Pause by John Larkin a score of 9 out of 10. If any of you have read this book or if you’re considering reading this book, I’d love to know!