I think I could talk about this book all day. What a great, important piece of literature. There’s like maybe 4 pages throughout the whole book that don’t have something underlined, starred, or some other marking from me on them. It’s just so good. For those who haven’t heard of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, here’s a short synopsis:
Craig is a high schooler who is suffering from debilitating depression. After almost killing himself, he checks into a mental hospital where he meets many others who are suffering as well.
This book is important because it opens up the discussion on depression and other mental ailments. It is told from a first person point of view, so you are really in this kids head. You see how he thinks and how he truly feels about different aspects of his life, and it is incredibly interesting and enlightening.
Here’s the book’s very first paragraph:
It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint– it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.”
This is just one example of the many times I thought, “oh wow, I had no idea.” Depression is an all encompassing thing, it doesn’t just affect your mind, it affects your whole body. Craig couldn’t eat or sleep or voice his thoughts correctly.
Also, let me say that this book is not depressing. It is sad at times, but it is so funny too. Craig has a great sense of humor and a quick wit. He loves his family and has such a unique outlook on life.
Ok, moving on.
Craig gets to the hospital and there are people he just never even thought existed, people that made him think, “Oh.. I thought I had it bad…” But the way he handles it is one of the most admirable things I have ever read. While he is startled initially by these people, as many would be, he treats them with so much respect, love, and dignity. He should be a role model for us all in this aspect. If/When you read this, pay attention to that.
Something that really struck me was the sense of community in this mental hospital. It was so real and raw and accepting. They had fun during free time together and genuinely enjoyed spending time with one another. (Most of them anyway.) They had real conversations and real “human” moments. They celebrated with each other and felt pain together. Craig had to go to a mental hospital to experience that kind of true community. Speaking as someone who is in school for ministry, this is how the church should be – real people feeling real emotions, experiencing real trials and heartbreaks, and really really being there through it all for one another.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story puts such an emphasis on the importance of life and living your life well and true. It also puts an emphasis on taking care of yourself and letting others take care of themselves.
The author, Ned Vizzini, suffered from depression and spent time in a mental hospital as well. This books gains so much more weight and importance once you know that Vizzini killed himself just about two years ago. This is a very real issue that needs discussed and he left a great tool to help us understand and discuss depression, suicide, and other mental health issues.
My Closing Rant:
I am not going to pretend I’m an expert on depression now, or even that I truly understand it, but as I looked through my notes to write this review, it’s like I could see my viewpoint changing and my mind understanding a bit better as I got further into the book. I found myself getting very angry with the people in the book who didn’t understand, but that was me only a few days ago before I read this. (Although, I am a bit more sensitive than some of these jerks.) This all leads me to my final point:
RESEARCH THINGS YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND!
I find myself sometimes wanting to be oblivious and uninformed about certain things because it is easier. I don’t want to know the sad things that happen in this world because it makes me upset. How very, very selfish of me. You cannot ignore the sadness in this world. That is how people fall through the cracks and sadness and darkness begin to run rampant.
You must rise up and be love and joy to those going through heartbreaks and devastation.
Pay attention to those in your life who need you but don’t know how to ask – they’re there, I promise.
ok this is my final point
Lastly, ask for help if you need it. There are people to help you, organizations to help you, and a loving Heavenly Father to help you. I know it can be hard to ask, but it will be so worth it.
I strongly encourage you to read this heartbreaking, hopeful, real, hilarious, and beautiful book. The world needs it.