Sunday, November 22, 2015

"It's Kind of a Funny Story" and Depression

It's not every day that you get excited to read about mental illness.  When I picked up Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of a Funny Story, I thought it was pretty sick to claim that depression is in any sense a "funny story".  But I shouldn't have judged this book by its cover.

It's Kind of a Funny Story is the tale of New York City teenager, Chris Gilner.  His goal in life is to get into the right school to get into the right college to get into the right job.  But the pressure is crippling, and he stops eating and sleeping and nearly kills himself.  So he gets checked into a mental hospital, where he meets a transsexual sex addict, a girl who scarred her face with scissors, and several other characters.  His experiences at the hospital finally help him confront his demons and live through his depression.

I love this story so much because it shows the true tragedy of depression.  Many stories often try to glorify or even degrade depression, but It's Kind of a Fu

nny Story is honest.  The Washington Post reviewed it as: "Funny... [Vizzini] supplies personal insights and a clever, self-deprecating tone that make the book an entertaining read."

The most tragic thing about It's Kind of a Funny Story, though, is the fact that its author (Ned Vizzini) was himself struggling with depression when he wrote this book.  He spent time in a psychiatric hospital and created a moving story about an unexpected road to happiness.  Vizzini committed suicide in December of 2013 (7 years after his most famous book was published).

In 2010, a movie adaptation of It's Kind of a Funny Story was released, starring Keir Gilchrist, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Roberts.  While the characters stray a little bit from the book, the movie version follows the plot pretty closely, so I didn't absolutely hate it.  If you're interested in It's Kind of a Funny Story, though, I would recommend reading the book instead.

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