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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Novel On Clinical Depression Which Will Interest Adults Too
When I moved back to New York City a decade ago, I was drawn immediately to the pages of the free alternative weekly "The New York Press". Why? Back then it had a terrific stable of eloquent columnists, ranging from Jonathan Ames and Melissa de la Cruz to fellow Brunonian Amy Sohn. But I thought the most remarkable person writing for them was a young high school student,...
Published on June 11, 2007 by John Kwok

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disconnected
I don't question the genuineness of Craig's experiences. Afterall, Vizzini did write this just after his own discharge from a psychiatric ward. However, this book hardly tackles the course of mental illness. Prior to Craig entering the hospital, the book was going in a good direction. Craig's depression seemed raw and relatable. However, once Craig enters the ward, he...
Published 14 months ago by Elune


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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Novel On Clinical Depression Which Will Interest Adults Too, June 11, 2007
This review is from: It's Kind of a Funny Story (Paperback)
When I moved back to New York City a decade ago, I was drawn immediately to the pages of the free alternative weekly "The New York Press". Why? Back then it had a terrific stable of eloquent columnists, ranging from Jonathan Ames and Melissa de la Cruz to fellow Brunonian Amy Sohn. But I thought the most remarkable person writing for them was a young high school student, Ned Vizzini, who would soon become a fellow alumnus of our prestigious New York City public high school, Stuyvesant High School, which is of course best known for its Nobel Prize-winning alumni, other distinguished scientists, doctors, engineers and lawyers, legendary Hollywood movie stars like James Cagney and Tim Robbins, and a certain former member of its faculty, one bestselling memoirist by the name of Frank McCourt. Although I haven't been following his subsequent career as diligently as I should, I was quite impressed back then with Vizzini's crisp, clear prose, and fine ear for clever dialogue. All of these are amply present in his latest novel for adolescent kids, "Its Kind Of A Funny Story", which I think will interest many adults too.

Vizzini offers an eloquent, memorable fictional description of teenage clinical depression in his latest novel; one which is the most honest, and truly - on occasion - humorous accounts I have come across. It is also one firmly rooted in reality, since he had suffered from clinical depression too, shortly before writing this novel. Craig Gilner is a new student at a prestigious New York City high school which is a fictionalized, business-oriented version of Stuyvesant. One night he begins thinking of suicide, and ultimately checks himself into the emergency room of his Brooklyn neighborhood hospital. It's the start of an engrossing - and as I have noted before, an occasionally hilarious - journey through the hospital's adult mental ward, where he soon encounters recovering drug addicts and people with multiple personality disorders. Craig does his best trying to retain his sanity while dealing with his fellow patients, the hospital's staff of superb doctors, nurses and other medical attendants, his family, and his small circle of high school buddies. You will find yourself smiling, perhaps laughing, as you read Craig's encounters, which will, of course, end on a triumphant note. Having established himself as one of our finest writers of adolescent fiction, I am truly looking forward to the time when Ned Vizzini joins the ranks of our best adult fiction writers too.
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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I Understand Mental Health, June 16, 2011
Before I read this book, I bought it for a friend as a birthday gift. About two, three years later, I finally decide to pick it up and read it myself. It was about October when I started and I finished it sometime before December. There was one line in the book that really changed my life. It was Craig was first checked into the hospital and when he's having a discussion with Humble. Humble says something along the lines of how he's afraid of living and not dying. When I read that I really understood what it's like to have a mental health disorder.

The way this book was written can resemble a memoir because Vizzini wrote this book after he was released from a hospital himself. And that's what makes it more realistic for the reader. As a young adult myself who is still in school, active in various extra curriculars, and dealing with relationships, this book is very relatable and shockingly real. This book is a great read for that reason. If you know someone who has a mental health disorder, whether it be depression, DID, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, you would greatly benefit from this book because you take the time to step inside their mind.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Are Your Tentacles?, June 16, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If anyone compares Ned Vizzini to Ken Kesey, don't listen to them. He's different because I said so. And because he is. In so many good ways.

His third book, IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY, takes its readers on an honest (and, in the end, refreshing) plunge into Craig Gilner's teenage depression and resurfaces in world that, five days later, feels real for the first time. He looks like your everyday modern kid until he sneaks out in the middle of the night and admits himself into a mental hospital. Why would he do that? If you asked him, he'd tell you it's because of all the Tentacles. Too many Tentacles and not enough Anchors. The stresses of life are wrapping him so tightly that he's not sure he can handle it. Even if he wants to.

The thing about Tentacles (Yes, it's spelled correctly) is he'd cut them off if he could, but if he did, he'd end up a failure. That's how life is right? He studies his brains out to ace the entrance exam and get into Executive Pre-Professional High School, so he's obligated or something to the best student he can, right? It seems so simple. Study hard. Read 3 newspapers a day. Respond to email. Answer phone calls. Sound normal. Look normal. Basically, do what everyone wants, when they want, and he'll make it in life. They'll see him as a success.

The problem is that Craig wants to end it all. As much as he loves that beating heart of his and his family and his friends and chilling with Aaron and hoping for something more with Nia, he wants to die. It's the only way he can think to stop the Cycling in his brain. He keeps waiting for The Shift to happen, but it feels eight continents away--In other words, Impossible. Vizzini captivates his readers with wild parties, Argenon (mental) Hospital, crazy roommates, Egyptian music, Brain Maps, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the third best sex scene of the year according to the Henry Miller Award panel, in a way that's as witty as it is wistful, and as humorous as it is human. Readers will love to follow Craig as he learns that cutting off the right Tentacles may be the only way to go from Broken, to Healing, to Normal, to Real, and finally, to Alive.

Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Kind of...well...Most Definitely an Amazing Book, March 16, 2006
By 
Brian H. (United States) - See all my reviews
Ned Vizzini, cult author who has been relatively successful although not blown up yet, was depressed. In December of 2005 he had suicidal thoughts and went into his local hospital's recovery program. He was there five days, and it took him a month to write this novel afterwards.

The main character, Craig, is starting to feel the pressures of life. Recently accepted into the most prestigious high school, things start building up, however instead of dealing with them he just keeps stacking his problems in the corner. While he's fallen into some shady friendships and into some pretty heavy pot use, his grades slip and he realizes he's not perfect. The thoughts nearly drive him to suicide, but thank God, he checks into his local hospital instead.

This story aside from some setup, mainly are the chronicles of Craig Gilner's 5 day stay. As he forms friendships with some of the patients he meets a girl, which leads to the development of one of the best and most touching romances I've read in a story since I read Feed about four years ago.

Through depression this narrative shows that there are reasons to live, and should help many teens through rough times. Although it's sad Ned Vizzini had to suffer through those times, it was now for the better since he has written this wonderful work which we can all learn from.

I expect this book to explode on the YA media, even though there are some adult themes (drugs, sex, language, etc.) it's nothing worse than you run into during the average day of life.

Although the book is about 440 pages long, you would never know it. I read this book in a day and a half, and I plan to read it several more times. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Whether you're depressed or not, young or old, that doesn't matter, because this book is about something we all have in common: life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disconnected, June 9, 2013
This review is from: It's Kind of a Funny Story (Paperback)
I don't question the genuineness of Craig's experiences. Afterall, Vizzini did write this just after his own discharge from a psychiatric ward. However, this book hardly tackles the course of mental illness. Prior to Craig entering the hospital, the book was going in a good direction. Craig's depression seemed raw and relatable. However, once Craig enters the ward, he hardly tackles anything. His eating disorder has miraculously dissapeared. On top of this, girls start swooning after him. I understand that this probably bumps up the novel in teen-read standards. But it becomes ridiculous after he fondles girl #2 in his hospital bedroom. Ultimately, this novel didn't seem genuine to me. As a young person who has suffered from depression for several years, I was hoping that something (humor, even) would draw me closer to Craig. But the characters became more distant as it progressed. In the end, I was left feeling indifferent toward the work.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best one yet..., July 6, 2006
I've read Ned Vizzini's two previous books, Teen Angst? Naaah... and Be More Chill, and they were both hilarious. It's Kind of a Funny Story is also funny (heh), occasionally to the point where I was laughing out loud. It also hits on a different level though, and Craig's recovery is one of the most life-affirming things I've ever read.

I can't say if this will apply to other people or not, but when Craig talks about his "Cycling" and the "Tentacles" it was one of those YES!!! moments. It was like "I know what this feels like", and it was just very nice to read about that, and to know that I'm not alone in having it.

If nothing else, read the book for the ending. While it's still directed towards Craig, it's also kind of a message for everyone who's ever battled against suicidal feelings.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, May 24, 2006
Ned Vizzini has a distinct advantage over other authors who write about teen depression, attempted suicide, and the ins and outs of psychiatry--as a teen he was clinically depressed and even spent time in a psychiatric hospital. That experience has allowed Mr. Vizzini to bring to life the kinds of situations that were once largely absent in teen fiction; that of the fact that not all teens are happy, spontaneous, happy-go-lucky youths.

For Craig Gilner, gaining acceptance into the elite Executive Pre-Professional High School in Manhattan is not the end of his problems, but only the beginning. All the studying, the cramming, the all-nighters he pulled to get high marks in his old high school and ace his entrance exam now seem mediocre, at best, at his new school. Craig realizes quite early on that he's not brilliant, he's not at the top of his class--he is, in fact, average. For a guy who worked as hard as Craig did, with such obsessive determination, this is a blow not just to his ego, but to his very soul.

Craig soon finds himself unable to eat, unable to sleep, unable to find joy in just about everything. As he realizes he's clinically depressed, he tells his shrink--excuse me, psychiatrist--that his only joy in life comes from peeing. Yes, peeing. You go in, you get it done, you accomplish what you set out to do, and you're finished. It's pretty sad that going to the bathroom seems to be the highlight of his day (he even manages to stretch each trip out to about five minutes), but it's also the truth.

Dr. Minerva, for $120/hour, is attempting to help Craig figure out exactly why he's depressed and how to overcome it. But Craig no longer thrives on a life of complexity; for him, life is a nightmare. And as his depression leads to thoughts of suicide, he's not even surprised to find that there's an 800 number he can call. And after taking the plunge and calling 1-800-SUICIDE Craig hikes over to the local emergency room at the hospital, where he meets Dr. Mahmoud (who is not a terrorist).

From there, Craig is checked into a psychiatric hospital, and he meets a motley crew of patients who, amazingly enough, become better friends to him than the ones he had before he went in ever were. For Craig, being in the hospital might just save not only his life, but his sanity and his will to keep on keeping on.

IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY is a great read. Filled with issues that plague a large number of teens today, the author has managed to take sensitive topics and deal with them in a humorous way that never seems disrespectful. A very enjoyable, thought-provoking read.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Way too long, October 29, 2009
By 
Robert Guyette (De Pere Wisconsin) - See all my reviews
The author is a good writer, it's just that he seems to have fallen in love with his own writing. There's way too little action for a 400-plus page book. This book goes on and one and on. The Burn Journals is a much better, more intense, more realistic view of teenage depression. The romantic encounters at the end were a bit too unbelieveable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simultaneously touching and eerie, January 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"It's Kind of a Funny Story" is a book that's been on my "To-Read" list for quite some time, however, with the recent passing of author Ned Vizzini, I thought the best way to honor a writer was to make sure the works they left behind are read. Hence, I moved it to the top of my reading list. The story follows a teen-aged protagonist who grows suicidal after his life takes a drastic turn. This results in his stay in a psychiatric ward. Here, he meets a cast of interesting characters and basically "finds himself." What this book does best is showcases what it really means to be depressed--to help shed light on what is too often thought of as a taboo subject despite that we are all bound to experience it in one way or another. While this is an inspirational and educational story presented in an entertaining way, there is also an underyling eerie feeling to it due to knowing Ned Vizzini suffered depression and recently committed suicide. While reading the story, one can't help but to wonder if some of the thoughts presented by the main character were indeed the real thoughts of Vizzini. The line between fiction and reality become blurred. If the knowledge of this makes you uncomfortable, this may not be a good choice for you to read. However, it is my hope that as tragic as Vizzini's end was, hopefully his modern-day masterpiece helps take some of the shame away from seeking mental health services and battling depression. His story and his life may be the tool to help save the life of someone else. R.I.P. Ned Vizzini.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A theraputic and insightful novel, January 9, 2012
By 
TibsisTops (California, USA) - See all my reviews
I saw the film before I read the book and I knew after finishing that it must've been a brilliant book. I bought it myself and by relating to the main character I realized that I too have been spiraling into depression. I was convinced that because I lived a good life and had a happy childhood that I couldn't possibly need a therapist. This book convinced me to get help and that I am not alone.
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It's Kind of a Funny Story
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (Paperback - April 3, 2007)
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