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Bookreview: It's kind of a Funny Story - Ned Vizzini

Title: It's Kind of a Funny Story
Author: Ned Vizzini
ISBN: 9780786851973
© 2006 Ned Vizzini

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life - which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety. 

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.

I came across this book in a bookswap-point and the title and description interested me enough to take the book home with me, despite having lots of other books to read. It took me quite a while to read it, but that was not due to lack of interest, just a question of preserving energy.

It's Kind of a Funny Story is indeed kind of a funny story, but not hilarious. The main character, Craig, has a sense of humor, a way of looking to the world, that is part of his problem as well as the solution. The people he meets in his five-day stay in the mental ward of a hospital are, according to me, the real people that save his life. They are painfully funny in their own messed-up way, because Ned Vizzini describes their madness in such a way it does become funny and sad at the same time.

The only thing that bothered me a bit is the constant use of slang. The words 'um', 'like', 'kinda', y'know'. Example: " 'Nah,' I was like." I get it, it's the way Craig speaks, but I just don't like it. Very personal opinion.

It is quite sad to know that the writer, Ned Vizinni, wrote this book soon after his own experience with a short stay on a mental-ward and that in the very end he himself did make the decision to end his own life. A promising writer with the gift to touch people's hearts and minds. It does seem to me such an ironic thing that many of the great writers and artists are the very ones with such intense feelings which they are ultimately unable to cope with themselves. It's kind of a very, very sad story.

I rate this book with a 7 out of 10.


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