February Goodreads Book Review

'It's Kind of a Funny Story'
It's Kind of a Funny Story
It's Kind of a Funny Story (DVD)

Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story tells the tale of Craig Gilner, a 15-year-old high school student who suffers from anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. While much of the subject material in the novel is quite serious, the whole story is infused with humor, and it is much more amusing than a story about mental illness has any right to be. 

The novel begins with Craig detailing the few things in life that give him pleasure, as well as the many, many things that cause him anxiety. It seems that nearly everything in his life causes stress. School, girls, his friends, and his parents—they all contribute to Craig’s neuroses that have gotten bad enough that he can barely eat, sleep, or function normally. After a lengthy introduction to Craig’s problems, and one particularly bad night that ends with him calling a suicide hotline, Craig visits the emergency room. 

The second part of the novel takes place in the adult wing of a psychiatric hospital, and while Craig’s stay there is brief, it seems as though he packs a few months’ worth of experiences into it. Through help from his therapist and his interactions with the other patients, Craig learns to reevaluate his goals and find the things in life that he truly cares about, as opposed to working to please his parents, teachers, and friends.  Craig also rediscovers his love of art and realizes the importance of having a creative outlet.

The novel features teen characters speaking openly about topics such as life, death, drugs, love, and sex. Vizzini’s dialogue rings true, and he does not write like an adult trying to sound younger.  The fact that Vizzini uses humor liberally throughout the story shows his reader that people with mental illnesses are not defined by these illnesses, and that their road to recovery is paved with many small victories.

The film adaptation of It’s Kind of a Funny Story also succeeds, especially with Keir Gilchrist’s role as Craig. Gilchrist captures the young, confused teen’s persona perfectly.  Zach Galifianakis’ performance in the film is also brilliant, as he manages to capture the humor of his character without making a mockery of those with mental illnesses.

Both the book and the movie versions of It’s Kind of a Funny Story are well worth your time, so check them both out today at your local DC Public Library and join us with your thoughts on Goodreads!