It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
My Goodreads rating – 4 out of 5 stars
NOTE – Whilst this review is spoiler free, I have explained that this book could possibly be triggering for some people. These trigger warnings may be considered as spoilers, but I feel that it’s important to declare them.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a young adult mental health based novel. The novel is narrated by Craig, a 15 year old boy who is suffering from depression. One night, Craig’s depression escalates, and he contemplates jumping off the Brooklyn bridge. He doesn’t, and instead calls the suicide hotline, and is told to go to the emergency room. Craig is then admitted to the hospital, and has to stay in the adult psychiatric ward (as the teen ward is being refurbished) for a minimum of five days. During his stay, Craig learns a lot. He learns a lot about himself, who is true friends are, and learns how to take control of his mental health.
Since this book is set in a psychiatric ward and deals with mental health issues, it may be triggering for some. I would say that this book is potentially triggering for anyone who has suffered from a mental illness, has experienced suicidal thoughts, or who has self-harmed.
I first read this book in 2012, and I could remember really enjoying it, but I couldn’t remember all of the plot. I re-read it earlier this month, and really enjoyed it. It is such a brilliant novel, and handles mental health really well. The book was inspired by the author’s own brief time spent in a psychiatric ward for depression. Since it is written from someone having experienced depression and hospitalisation due to mental illness, it handles mental health really well, and makes the story seem so real.
Even though this book tackled some difficult issues, and was centred around depression, it was really uplifting. Books about mental health can tend to be really heavy reads, so it was a nice change to read a book from the genre that was funny and optimistic.
After finishing this book, I went online to see if Ned Vizzini has written any more books, because I enjoyed this one so much. I found out that he committed suicide in 2013, which is so sad. Depression is such a cruel illness, and it’s so sad knowing that so many people are dying because of mental illness. I still can’t believe that suicide is the leading cause of death in Britain for men under 50.
But this is why we need to encourage people to talk about mental health, and I think that reading books like It’s Kind of a Funny Story help to open up that conversation. 1 in 4 people will suffer some form of mental illness in their lifetime, yet there is still a stigma. As a society, we are slowly getting better at discussing mental health, but until we can truly see it as not different to physical health, we can improve how it is viewed.
So overall I loved this book, and it’s definately one of my favourites. The only reason I’ve given it 4 stars rather than 5 is I really didn’t like one of the relationships in the book, and thought it could have been left out.
I think all ages would enjoy this book/gain something from it, but I think it’s most suited to teenagers/young adults. I would say that due to the heavy content, it’s not suitable for younger teens. But then again, the film adaption is a 12A, so I think it’s up to your own discretion.
Let me know if you’ve read It’s Kind of a Funny Story, and if you have any recommendations for books that centre around mental health 🙂