I found Ned Vizzini’s novel, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, on our middle school’s lost and found cart in the cafeteria. I skimmed through it and it did seem kind of funny, so I decided to borrow it. (I promise to bring it back!)
After the first few pages, I was ready to bail because it reminded me too much of the stoner kids I used to hang out with when I was younger – funny then, annoying now. However, I stuck with it and I’m glad I did because it turned out to be a very funny and well written story.
Craig is a fifteen-year-old boy who’s never had a girlfriend, doesn’t have any hobbies, (unless you count smoking pot and watching other people play video games as hobbies) and to top it off, is in the midst of a major depressive episode. He has trouble keeping food in his stomach, has insomnia, his concentration is in the toilet, and he’s convinced that he’ll never make it at the elite high school he attends. One night he decides that the solution is to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge. Fortunately, he has a change of heart, and admits himself to a psychiatric unit only to find that the adolescent wing is being renovated; therefore he’s admitted to the adult wing. Craig spends five long days in the hospital (the author did as well, in 2004, but as an adult) where he feels safe from the “tentacles” of daily life. For Craig, tentacles include homework, school, email, phones, girls, etc. His therapist encourages him to find an “anchor”- basically something that makes him feel safe in a world full of danger. With help from Noelle, a fifteen-year-old cutter, he realizes that he still loves drawing maps like he did when he was four. Only now he decides to draw people’s brains with maps in them. He describes it like this:
“A working brain is probably a lot like a map, where anybody can get from one place to another on the freeways. It’s the nonworking brains that get blocked, that have dead ends, that are under construction like mine.”
Now that I’ve read the book, I’m interested in watching the movie. It’s Kind of a Funny Story reminds me of the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” which I loved, and which is also a book.