It's Kind of a Funny Story
Way back when I was in college, in the days before MySpace or Facebook or even LiveJournal, I read ANGELA'S ASHES by Frank McCourt. It also happened to be a favorite of my advisor's. When he saw me reading it, he said, "You know, it's funny about that book. You want to laugh at it, but at the same time you feel guilty for laughing because there's so much sadness."
I had to agree with him. While reading ANGELA'S ASHES, I never knew whether to laugh at McCourt's humor or cry because so much of his life was bleak. And until now, when I read IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini, I have not felt so emotionally split over a book. That's a good thing, trust me.
IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY is kind of a funny story. It's about 15-year-old Brooklynite Craig Gilner, who attends a prestigious college prep school that will set him on his way to the right college, the right law school, and the right job on Wall Street --- assuming he can bring up his 93 average. Studying for his school's entrance exam occupied Craig for months, and he was proud of his perfect score. Now, though, the school is a huge source of stress for him. He feels scattered and depressed, and even though he really likes the doctors who are helping him with his depression, he can't seem to make what he refers to as The Shift, a move back to normal life. When he calls a suicide hotline, they suggest that he go to the emergency room. From there, Craig spends five days on Six North, the adult psychiatric floor of his local hospital.
Six North turns out to be exactly what Craig needs. Away from the stress of high school, parties and friends, he is given the chance to decompress, focus on getting better, and find out what he wants to do to achieve happiness. In this sheltered environment, supported by his doctors and his family, Craig returns to one of his first interests --- art --- and makes not only the quirkiest but the most real friends of his life, who help him on his way to healing.
Even though there are a lot of serious issues here, you can't help but laugh. The people Craig encounters on Six North aren't anything like his friends from school. Craig tries to maintain normal ties with his pals while on Six North, but they don't quite work out. His voice is very honest, and he's not afraid to share the details of a high-stress high school life, including sex, drugs and Egyptian popular music. Read it and weep. Or laugh. Maybe both.
Reviewed by Carlie Webber on April 2, 2006
It's Kind of a Funny Story
- Publication Date: April 3, 2007
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- ISBN-10: 078685197X
- ISBN-13: 9780786851973