Mittwoch, 20. März 2013

It's kind of a funny story by Ned Vizzini

I finished this book quite a while ago, but lend it to a friend, because I really liked it. Not just because it's very easy to read. You could finish it in two days if you want to. At first I was skeptical, because my mum gave it to me last year I think and because of the topic and without me hearing of this book somewhere or seeing it in the book store. But then I read it two months ago and I was very convinced that this is indeed an important book! Text on the back:

“Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.”

As I said, I read this book around two months ago and my memory is not so fresh about it as it was right after I read it of course. Usually I write a review about a book right after I read it, but that time I really wanted to give it to my friend. She liked it, by the way. Anyway... I remember when I read it, that it was for an emotional roller coaster, because in many things I could identify myself with him. For example is he someone who is catastrophizing a lot, his head is always cycling around. That is something I do a lot as well and it usually makes everything worse to me. I totally could understand why he developed this anxiety to face the world.

But although this all sounds very depressing, this book is also one of the most funniest I've ever read! It's almost completely written in youth language, especially in the dialogues he has with his friends. So it's also possible that one finds himself or herself in this book with a lot of giggling around because it can be quite hilarious! As the name says... “It's kind of a funny story”.

Let me see if I can find a good text example...

“Dr. Barney stared at me, his lips puckered, What was he so serious about? Who hasn't thought about killing themselves, as a kid? How can you grow up in this world and not think about it? It's an option taken by a lot of successful people: Ernest Hemingway, Socrates, Jesus. Even before high school, I thought that it would be a cool thing to do if I ever got really famous. If I kept making my maps [as a kid he used to draw maps of cities], for instance, and some art collector came across them and decided to make them worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if I killed myself at the height of that, they'd be worth millions of dollars, and I wouldn't be responsible for them anymore. I'd have left behind something that spoke for itself, like the Brooklyn Bridge.
'I thought . . . you haven't really lived until you've contemplated suicide,' I said. 'I thought like it would be good to have a reset switch, like on the video games, to start again and see if you could go a different way.'
Dr. Barney said, 'It sounds as if you've been battling this depression for a long time.'
I stopped. No I hadn't . . . Yes I had.
Dr. Barney said nothing.
Then he said, 'You have a flat affect.'
'What's that?'
'You're not expressing a lot of emotion about these things.'
'Oh. Well. They're too big.'
'I see. Let's talk a little about your family.'
'We're going to get through this, Craig. Now, from a personal standpoint, why do you think you have this depression?'
'I can't compete at school,' I said. 'All the other kids are too much smarter.'
'What's the name of your high school?'
'Executive Pre-Professional High School.'
'Right. I've heard of it. Lots of homework.'
'Yeah. When I come home from school, I know I have all this work to do, but then my head starts the Cycling.'
''The Cycling.''
'Going over the same thoughts over and over. When my thoughts race against each other in a circle.'
'Suicidal thoughts?'
'No, just thoughts of what I have to do. Homework. And it comes up to my brain and I look at it and think 'I'm not going to be able to do that' and then it cycles back down and the next one comes up. And then things come up like 'You should be doing more extracurricular activities' because I should, I don't do near enough, and that gets pushed down and it's replaced with the big one: 'What college are you going to, Craig?' which is like the doomsday question because I'm not going to get into a good one.'
'What would a good one be?'
'Harvard. Yale. Duh.'
'And then the thoughts keep turning and I lie down on my bed and think them. And I used to not be able to lie down anywhere; I used to always be up doing something, but once the Cycling starts I can waste hours, just lying and looking at the ceiling, and time goes slowly and really fast at the same time – and then it's midnight and I have to go to sleep because no matter what I do, I have to be at school the next day. I can't let them know what's happening to me.'
'Do you have difficulty sleeping?'
'Sometimes not. When I do it's bad, though. I lie there thinking about how everything I've done is a failure, death and failure, and there's no hope for me except being homeless, because I'm never going to be able to hold a job because everyone else is so much smarter.''

Sometimes you tend to think that such thoughts just happen in your own mind and that you are alone with it. But this book is another example that you usually are not alone with the problems. That there are actually more people in this world who think the same sad thoughts. Maybe it's also no wonder that even children have burnouts these days...

So, if someone reads this, who is really really sad, don't give up, read this book and try to talk to someone about your feelings and thoughts!

Others who are just interested in a good read that deals also with actuality and kind of a generation sickness, read this book as well!



  1. Thank you. Thank you so much. This book sounds so interesting. I just went to my bag and took my diary to finally start what I wanted to do for such a long time: A booklist. I have a cycling problem as well and I often think about things and how cool it would be to do that but I never really start because I'm stuck in my thoughts or something, but this review made me start something. Now I just need a movie to finally start the movie list as well XD

    1. I'm really happy that you found something to start your list. I recommended this book to so many people by now. My best friend, another friend, my brother.... there is also a movie about it though. But I actually don't want to watch it.
      A movie to start the movie list... uhm, what kind of movies do you like? I could maybe recommend you some and you think about it.

    2. I can't imagine watching the movie about that book, too. And I haven't read it yet ...

      That's my problem. I have no clue. There's no film genre, I like in particular. Or at least, I haven't found out yet. I like most films of studio ghibli though ...

    3. Well, I can say my love for movies started with 'Garden State' and also the japanese movie 'Go'.

    4. 'Go' sounds especially interesting to me and I added both movies to my amazon wishlist thinking about how to add the movie list to my diary. I'll probably have to start it from the end and the book list from the start of the notes section and then they'll meet one day XD