As a soon-to-be senior I’ve experienced my fair share of anxiety. I take AP classes, play violin and work on The Octagon. And, while all those tests, performances and paste-up weeks have begun to add up, I still haven’t experienced that tell-tale “breakdown” that so many teenagers undergo.
So, needless to say, I have little to no experience with mental trauma or depression. This is precisely why I found “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini so intriguing and insightful.
The book covers only about a week, but, within that short period, I was placed inside the mind of a clinically depressed boy, Craig, who wants to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge but decides instead to check himself into a mental ward at the hospital.
Vizzini, who himself was clinically depressed and a patient in a mental ward, describes Craig’s thoughts vividly and clearly.
Because Craig goes to an exclusive high school and spends most of his time worrying about his future, I understood what he was going through..
Written as a first-person narrative, “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” put me in the mindset of a depressed and anxious teenager. I even began to relate to the protagonist.
Furthermore, as the title suggests, Vizzini’s story is also surprisingly funny. As the least “messed up” of those in the mental ward, Craig quickly finds many friends, in addition to a potential girlfriend.
And with a multitude of mental illnesses represented on the floor, there is never a dull moment—there’s the boy who’s afraid of gravity, the Egyptian man who spends all day in bed, the authoritative man who goes by the title President Armelio. And, of course, there’s a Jewish man, Solomon, who’s afraid of loud noises:
“The Hasidic Jewish guy comes in holding up his pants. He still has food in his beard. He grabs his tray and opens a microwaved packet of spaghetti and starts shoveling it into his mouth, making slurping, gulping groans.”
After reading this book, I felt revived in a way—yeah, I have a lot of stressors in my life, but compared to Craig I’m pretty happy. Experiencing his situation was amazing and eye-opening.
Reading “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” also became rather surreal once I learned that Vizzini had committed suicide last year.
But he did publish three other books in the young adult genre: “Be More Chill,” “Teen Angst? Naaah…” and “House of Secrets.” And, for those who read only in English class, there’s a movie adaptation of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.”