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4.5 out of 5 stars
It's Kind of a Funny Story
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
"Sometimes I just think depression's one way of coping with the world. Like, some people get drunk, some people do drugs, some people get depressed. Because there's so much stuff out there that you have to do something to deal with it."

***3.7 stars***

There are very few books that I've read and come away feeling so different, so....affected. I don't even know where to start trying to reflect on this book.

Every emotion is experienced.

We're happy, sad, devastated, depressed, happy again, lonely, hateful, in love, overwhelmed, grateful, hopeless, suicidal, excited, angry,.... Every page in It's Kind of A Funny Story hits a nerve somewhere. The whole time I was reading, I felt like I was inside Craig's head, seeing the world through his eyes and understanding his every thought and feeling.

Craig isn't a bad kid. He's a regular middle-class 15-year-old with a loving family, friends, going to the best school in his city. I came to realize throughout the book that to other people he probably seemed like a spoiled brat, but I NEVER got that impression of him. To me, he was just lost. He's overwhelmed with school, has no self-esteem, and severe clinical depression. This book pretty much chronicles his time dealing with it; the spiraling descent and the rebuilding afterwards.

I love his family too, because they're real, and they're great. Too many times books about depression and self-harm focus on the tense familial relationships surrounding the issue and don't deal with the issue itself. Craig's mom, dad, and little sister are great. They're supportive and honestly love him. There's no petty jealousy or alienation.

The characters are all-around good and well-developed. Noelle was cool, even though she doesn't come in until about halfway. Humble is crazy, and added some much-needed humor to an otherwise heavy read. I found myself giggling alot more than I thought I would reading a book about depression.

I honestly don't want to talk about what I didn't like. I'd much rather focus on the positives. But a review is a review so here goes: The story really dragged in the beginning. I understand that it's important to be detailed, but we don't actually enter the psych ward until around page 200. I wouldn't have minded that, but the back of the book made it seem like it would've been alot sooner. I got kind of bored a couple times, tbh.

The word-building and writing are simple, yet manage to take us through a complex web of emotion and break it down.

I have no idea how Ned Vizzini managed to create the amazing voice that is Craig, but I'm glad he did because I love him. I cant talk about it enough. He's so real. I UNDERSTAND him, and no, he's not stupid or weird. In fact, if there's one thing I learned from this book, it's that no one, NO ONE, with depression or schizophrenia, or whatever else it is you may or may not have, is stupid or weird. Yeah, you're screwed up, but you know what? We all are.

It's Kind of a Funny Story wasn't just a novel; it was a learning experience.

In Conclusion,

Life is screwed up; babies dies everyday for no reason, murders still happen, mothers abandon children, wars still kill thousands, but in the end, we're all a little bit like Craig, trying to find our own ways of coping, sometimes getting overwhelmed, sometimes just dealing, but in the end,

"Life's not about feeling better, it's about getting the job done."

-JennTheAwesum

To view this review on Goodreads go here: [...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2014
Format: Paperback
It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Craig Gilner, a 15 year old depressed and suicidal boy, tells the story of how he overcomes his depression. He feels he isn’t as smart as everyone else at his school, and he is under a lot of pressure from his father to succeed. He checks himself into a mental hospital, and over a period of five days, he meets a girl named Noelle and he meets with his therapist, Dr. Minerva. In the end, he overcomes his depression.

The book begins with the main character, Craig Gilner, thinking about suicide. He wants to jump off the Brooklyn bridge. Instead of jumping, he calls a suicide hotline. On the advice of the operator, he checks himself into a nearby hospital. Because the teenage section is under renovation, Craig gets put into the adult facility along with the rest of the teenagers. He meets Noelle, who is in the facility because she cuts herself. Noelle encourages Craig to start drawing again. With the help of Noelle and Dr. Minerva, he realizes that he wants to go to art school. So by the end of the book, with help from his parents, his sister, Dr. Minerva, and his budding love for Noelle, Craig ends with this line: “So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live. Live.”

I would recommend this book because it’s about overcoming depression and choosing to live happily. It’s a good book because it has some funny parts, some emotional parts, it’s a good message for young readers, and, yes, it’s kind of a funny story!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
I first want to say that anyone interested in the movie should read the book first. Books are always better.

Secondly I really enjoyed this book although it did seem to read like a romantic comedy that happens to take place in an mental institution. Although Craig is afflicted with many problems by the end of the novel he cannot lose. While I was not hoping for Craig to fail it was frustrating to see a character that was on the verge of ending his life at the beginning of the novel suddenly realizes that life seems to be perfect. Over all it is a fun read, but not exactly what I was expecting. Anyone interested in the field of psychology would find the goings-on in the ward pretty interesting. Also Vizzini's writing style is very readable and keeps the reader enthralled in the story. If you are looking for a feel good story this novel is it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Ned hits a lot of things right on the nose including the tentacles, the cycling(both of which I can TOTALLY relate to and I know other teens can too) and most importantly...the comedy. It's a story about a depressed kid but i just love the way Ned Vizzini can make such a serious topic and add a lot of laugh out loud moments(never have I actually laughed this hard from a BOOK)ranging from the characters to Craig's awkwardness and thought process which I love. This is a must read for young adults and will have you rooting for Craig. This may sound cheesy but this book changed my life for the better and it really opened my eyes up to what life would be like if I stayed in bed and did nothing all day...Muqtada. I know it sounds cliche but It's a Really Funny Story :)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I though the portrayal of Craig's depression was shockingly accurate. In fact, I think it's one of the most realistic portrayals I've read.

Craig is depressed after getting into the prestigious high school of his dreams. He feels trapped by all the pressure and he's losing his focus on what he really wants. One night he decides he is going to kill himself, but instead he calls the suicide hotline and ends up checking himself into the hospital. While in the hospital he learns to cope with his depression and figures out what he really wants.

While Craig's character seemed very real to me, I was disappointed by the one-sided characters in the psychiatric hospital.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
In Ned Vizzini’s quasi-autobiographical novel, ateenage boy struggles with clinical depression and finally realizes he might be able to conquer it one day at a time.

The trouble starts when CRAIG GILNER applies to a tough private school in Brooklyn. He spends most of a year studying for the entrance exam and taking private lessons and undergoing prep exams. When he isn’t studying, he’s hanging with his friend AARON, who also wants to get into EXECUTIVE PRE-PROFESSIONAL HIGH SCHOOL. Aaron is a lot more laid back than Craig about the whole thing. He spends most of his time smoking pot and having sex with his girlfriend NIA. (Craig covets Nia in the worst way and when Aaron tells him about feeling the inside of her “pussy” and tells him it feels like the inside of a cheek, Craig nearly goes wild.)

Always sensitive, Craig gets clinically depressed after he gets into the school. His parents (mom designs postcards, dad’s in health insurance) are very concerned and send him off to a psycho-pharmacologist named DR. BARNEY. He puts Craig on Zoloft and refers him to a psychotherapist. It takes a few sessions to find a good fit for him, but Craig really likes DR. MINERVA. And that’s when Craig’s problems really begin.

There’s an urgency and a freshness to this novel that marks the author as a real talent. This is not the usual coming of age story. It is, instead, a character study. Craig is just a normal kid until his depression and anxiety spin out of control and he succumbs to the pain of it all. Every step along the downward spiral feels completely real and plausible, as does the ambiguous ending. (Craig is all right, for the time being, and hopeful that he will only get better with time.)

The characters here are not always developed to their fullest, but the author has a knack for giving us the detail that will make them come alive. Craig’s mom shows up at the hospital toting the family dog, much to everyone’s dismay. When she hugs Craig, the dog is in between them and growls. (It does not go unnoticed by Craig that the dog began barking at him when he his depression began to take hold.)

Nia, the girl of Craig’s dreams, proves to be a superficial sort long before Craig realizes it. She’s a tease and not really worth all the energy he pours into loving her. (His friend Noelle speaks for most readers when she tells Craig that Nia is a slut.)

The various patients on the adult ward are a mixed bag. The writer does a good job of making these damaged people come alive. It is perhaps too on the nose that Noelle is a survivor of a suicide attempt brought on by sexual abuse. Bobby and Tommy and Humble are actually pretty funny in their roles as drug burn-outs (what Bobby calls being a “garbage-head”) and they’re as close to the voice of reason as he’s going to find.

The doctors are uniformly sympathetic. (This is not a ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST situation, although everyone kind of hopes that it might be—at least among Craig’s posse.) One doctor in particular has a special knack for getting to the bottom of what’s bothering Craig and offering solutions. (Solutions are ANCHORS in Craig’s parlance, just as drawing the maps is a way for him to stay grounded.)

We like Craig and really wish him well. The descriptions of how he is affected by depression and anxiety get to us on a completely visceral and emotional level. (The author slips in some statistics on how many people in the US have depression or other anxiety disorders, and the figures are high enough to pretty much include everyone in the depression continuum.)

The problem with the book as a whole is that it gives us a backdrop and it gives us lots of characters, but it doesn’t really give us a story. Unlike, say, ORDINARY PEOPLE, where there was a beginning, middle and end to the boy’s tale.
movie, however.

This well-crafted novel is as real as it gets, a story told without self-pity and with large dollops of humor. It’s very accessible. Tragically, the real-life denouement—the author committed suicide just before Christmas in 2013—will now leave a pall over the hopeful ending, despite the important message about getting help for suicidal thoughts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2015
Format: Paperback
WARNING: SOME SPOILERS

I bought this book fully expecting to love it. After reading such great reviews about it, I had no doubt in my mind that I was in for a treat. And I was . . . for the first half. Once Craig is admitted into the psych hospital, the book begins to fizzle. The different characters he meets are interesting (especially Noelle, who pretty quickly became my favorite) and his voice remains believable for the most part, but his journey over battling his depression feels watered down, and the book's ending is rather abrupt. So he feels Noelle up and then, all of a sudden, develops a reverence for life? Uh, yeah, no, sorry but I'm not buying it. The NY Times called this "an important book." If I were to go by the first half, I would agree. Vizzini does capture the essence of depression--of what it feels like--very well (which makes sense given he himself suffered from depression and spent time in a psych hospital). But it seemed like, somewhere near the end, he thought to himself, "Okay, so Craig's five days are almost up--I need to hurry and make him better! How should I do that? Of course, give him a little action with his girl! That oughta perk him up." I know Craig mentions at the end that he isn't cured, that his problems haven't completely left him, but his "progress" (I put that word in quotes because I don't really think he made progress at all) still felt out of the blue and superficial. The best aspect of the second half of the book, in my opinion, was his discovering his passion for art and deciding to transfer schools. However, the decision was made rather spontaneously and came across as a way to tidy everything up without any real resolution.

Furthermore, I felt this book tried too hard to be light-hearted, and thus lost some of its "punch." I know depression is a hard subject to write about, and that sometimes the best way to handle hardships is through humor, but I thought the humor here was a bit forced and out of place. I almost think it would have been better had Vizzini gone a more serious route.

All in all, a noble effort but not one I was all too impressed with. 3/5 stars.

(As a side note: RIP Ned Vizzini. My condolences to his friends and family.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
There are so many things I love about this book that I’m inspired to write my own. 15 year-old Craig Gilner’s unflinching, awkward, painful, and awkwardly-painful story is simply breathtaking. No really, at some points I couldn’t breathe it was so funny. Though very common, the story of an amazingly talented but slightly suicidal teenager is pretty much unspoken. There’s like, this rule that you can’t talk about suicide. At all. But nowadays it seems rules are being broken. It’s still incredibly painful and uncomfortable to talk about it, but people are willing to acknowledge it as an issue to be dealt with rather than a sin. People can’t help being depressed; it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. What impresses me about this book is Vizzini isn’t loud about the subject, rather he’s real. Craig is so incredibly relatable, because if you aren’t like him you know someone like him. Anxious, clever, over analytical, talented, shy, but then again brave just about sums it up. The whole book is about struggle and depression, but it’s quite funny. In this case the title was very well thought out on Vizzini’s part. While caught up in Craig’s adventures you might learn a thing or two about yourself; his struggles aren’t too far off from those of us who don’t have mental disorders. They’re quite normal actually. He just wants to fit in, do well, have fun, and build a secure future. Sound familiar? The biggest lesson from this book is that we are our own worst enemy. We are usually the only ones standing in the way of ourselves. But at the end of the day, we know that. Why don’t we do something about it? We all put so much stress on ourselves with what we’re supposed to be doing, all these things to do. Take it from Craig, “Things to do today: 1.) Breathe in. 2.) Breathe out.”
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