It's Kind of a Funny Story.


One thing I want to do is read more books. Fiction or non-fiction. I see the benefits of reading, such as learning more, gaining critical thinking skills, and expanding your world as you relate to the characters. The problem with me is that I have a pretty short attention span, and sometimes it takes me a long time to finish a book, or I have to start over.

Last year, Cecilio bought me the young adult novel It's Kind of a Funny Story because I talked about how much I wanted to read it after looking at the cover and reading the plot. I read it on the flight last year to Hawaii and back, I read some more of it at home, and then finished the rest of it during the flight to and from Hawaii this year.

It's Kind of a Funny Story addresses mental health issues such as suicide, depression, drug use and schizophrenia. Those are pretty serious themes, but the author Ned Vizzini writes in such a way that makes the book hilarious, and puts the reader in the characters' shoes.

It's Kind of a Funny Story is narrated by main character, 15 year old Craig Gilner. He resides in NYC, and his ultimate goal is to get accepted in the elite Executive Pre-Professional High School as a jump start to getting accepted into a high-ranking college, and ultimately live a "successful" life. However, once he gets accepted to the high school, his mental health turns for the worse. Due to the high pressure (along with an unrequited love for his best friend's girlfriend), Craig has constant thoughts about suicide, so he turns himself in a mental hospital and stays for five days. He befriends various people there and learns about their stories, how they ended up at that particular mental hospital. Despite his eagerness to leave as soon as possible, he finds that he is enjoying his stay there. While he is well aware of his own issues, he realizes that he could have it way worse like his fellow hospital mates. He rediscovers his love for drawing during an art activity, and people are fascinated with his drawings of brain maps—head silhouettes with highways, rivers, squares (as buildings), and circles as roundabouts—which is why the cover art of this book is just a head silhouette with random squares. Craig, in his own thoughts, states, "I look at the map. It's not a brain, clearly; it's a map; can't she see the rivers and highways and interchanges? But I see how it could look like a brain, like if all roads were twisted neutrons, pulling your emotions from one place to another, bringing the city to life. A working brain is probably a lot like a map, where anybody can get from one place to another on the freeways."

I can see through Craig's art is that humans are complicated beings. We have all these different aspects to our being, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Though I am 10 years removed from high school, I along with many other adults can definitely relate to Craig in the sense that we are hungry for perfection and success. Living in America feels like a rat race, where you have to kill yourself–figuratively (and literally if you're not careful)—to make it to the top of the chain. We often feel like if we settle for anything less than what we deem as successful, we might as well just cease to exist in society like Craig's hospital neighbors.

Ned Vizzini, the author, wrote this novel after spending five days in a psychiatric ward at the Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn (November 29, 2004—December 3, 2004). He wrote It's Kind of a Funny Story from December 10, 2004—January 6, 2005, and the book became published in 2006. There is also a film version that came out in 2010 (which I haven't watched). Unfortunately, Vizzini committed suicide on December 19, 2013...6 months before I read the book and found out. Despite his awareness and desire to manage or cure his depression (at least through Craig's character), he had his own demons to conquer that we will never know about.

Overall, I think anyone from the ages of 13 and up will enjoy It's Kind of a Funny Story, but those who suffer from physical and/or mental health issues will benefit from it the most because it shows that no matter what race, gender, age or socioeconomic background, no one is spared from the frailties of their own minds. We all have a little bit of Craig in us—anxious, introspective, and trying to go through life figuring out our purpose.

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