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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
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This review is from: It's Kind of a Funny Story: A Novel (Hardcover)
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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