Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. So with single-minded determination, Craig works night and day to ace the entrance exam. Once he does that, he gains admission to this elite school. That’s when everything starts to unravel.
Once Craig starts at the new school he realizes a shocking truth. He is just one of the many brilliant kids who attend the school. In fact, he isn’t even brilliant, he's just average. Craig soon starts to see his once-perfect future crumbling away. He begins to have trouble eating, sleeping doing the routine things that used to be simple everyday activities. He eventually realizes he is clinically depressed.
So begins Craig’s battle with depression- which involves seeing a myriad of specialists, taking medication, and, at his most desperate, checking himself into a psychiatric hospital. There, Criag meets a motley crew of patients- his roommate, who is afraid to leave their room, a girl who has scarred her own face with a pair of scissors, and a transsexual sex addict. But somehow this odd cast of characters start to seem more like real friends to Craig than anyone he has ever known. At the hospital, Craig is finally able to come to terms with the overwhelming pressures that come from the school, his friends and most of all, himself.
The dynamic characters interwoven into every part of this witty novel were themselves witty, interesting, and personal. Craig is the main character, depressed and unstable, and learning hist story was a great way to spend my time, but he wasn't the only one with an intersting history. When he goes to the psychiatic hospital, Craig makes many friends, and they all have heartbreaking pasts and hopeful futures. You want each of them to succeed and this connection to the story sucks you in until you get lost in the map of It's Kind of a Funny Story.
Ned Vizzini's writing is clever and has a unique voice which transcends the gap between writer and character. There's no other novel about a messed up teenager that is this good. He makes something that is as sad as depression, into something heavy with dry wit. No matter how much you think you should be upset, or tearing up, or feeling bad for these people, he can make you crack up at a single action, until you realize you shouldn't feel bad for the people in the psychiatric hospital, you should be laughing along with them.
Ned Vizzini himself spent five days in the same hospital Craig spends his time in. He gives you a look inside the mind of a depressed teen, and all his friends that are likewise screwed up.
5/5 cups of coffee.