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.show more