After reading up to page 46 of It’s Kind of A Funny Story, I almost gave up on it. There’s something about a book where the character is losing it mentally which make me kind of uncomfortable. I went upstairs, got a cup of coffee, came back to the book, picked it up, studied it for a minute and thought, “Eh, what the hell.” And just kept reading.
I am very glad that I did, considering that I would have missed a great and insightful book. Disaster averted.
Craig is having some trouble. He doesn’t feel like himself and can barely force himself to eat. When he does eat, he can’t always keep it down. He knows that he has bad days and less bad days, but there comes a point where it just wants all the days to end. Fortunately, before actually taking drastic measures, he calls a suicide hotline and goes to the emergency room to be treated. He is surprised to find himself admitted to the psychiatric ward of the hospital, but makes the best of it. There are the usual crazy characters crazy being the operative word here and emotional breakthroughs. What is great about this book, however, is the characters are realistic and handled with a degree of sensitivity. It would be easy to make fun of the people in this psychiatric facility, but Ned Vizzini lets us laugh with them, not at them.
Now is when I should add that I worked in a psychiatric hospital just after college, mainly with the teenagers and children. The author has captured this world pretty accurately. There are usually a few regulars who come back repeatedly, but more of the people seem for lack of a better word normal. They just need some help getting back on track. Vizzini does a good job of conveying the messages about depression and suicide without being preachy. He also does a good job of showing hope, without seeming like a Pollyanna.
In the end, it is kind of a funny story, because the fragility of people has humor to it, as well as angst.