You know what isn’t funny? Suicide. You know what is funny? This book. Ned Vizzini captures perfectly all the pain,suffering, frustration, and in retrospect, cruel irony, that comes with being a teenager with clinical depression.
Our main character, Craig, gets accepted to a prestigious New York High School, and from there, everything else goes downhill. He decides his only way out – death. Before he throws himself off the Brooklyn Bridge, he calls a suicide hotline, and before you know it, he’s admitted to a psych ward, and since the teenage floor is under renovation, Craig is introduced to the adult ward called Six North, with people of every age, race, and background. Vizzini perfectly captures the voice of a 15-year-old boy, and I’m particularly a fan of his present-tense perspective. He masters the feeling of sucking you into the world he’s created, and you laugh, cry, suffer, eat, and grow right next to Craig.
Vizzini also succeeds in creating a cast of supporting characters that are just as unique and lovable as people in the real world. It sheds light on people with mental illness, as just as normal, endearing, and funny as you and I. Each member of Six North teaches Craig a different lesson, and he comes to see that life isn’t all about grades, books, prestigious high schools, and stress. It’s about music, art, friendships, and everything else is simply a side effect.
Coming of age stories are a classic trope, but this one puts a modern humorous spin on it that surely appeals to the masses. It’s funny, down to earth, and at times, incredibly raw.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Length: 444 pages
Favorite Quote: “Life can’t be cured, but it can be managed.”
Best time and place to read it: In a hospital waiting room.
If you liked this check out: “Teen Angst? Naaah…” by Ned Vizzini, “Get Well Soon” by Julie Halpern, “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher