September 27, 2011

The Thoughts in Your Head • It's Kind Of A Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story book cover
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
Source/Format:  Bought || Paperback

Craig Gilner is a gifted 15-year-old boy who works hard to get into a fiercely competitive high school, then crumbles under the intense academic pressure. Blindsided by his inability to excel and terrified by thoughts of suicide, Craig checks into a psychiatric hospital where he finally gets the help he needs.

It's Kind Of A Funny Story was a surprisingly refreshing read about depression and its accompanying thought process. I picked it up because I knew there had been a movie version of it (which I'm still planning to watch), but now I'm really glad I ended up reading the book first.

I thought It's Kind Of A Funny Story was, quite simply, a very honest, detailed portrayal of the thought processes of someone, specifically a teenager, going through depression. At first, I was quite annoyed with Craig Gilner, our main character, but somehow, somewhere in the middle of my reading, understanding and compassion dawned on me. It's a hell of a lot of pressure for any teenager (heck, even for me, and I'm a young adult) to live in a society that wants us to be the best at just about everything - school, extracurriculars, life, relationships, so it is kind of understandable why Craig would be driven to depression. I really could empathize with his concepts of the Cycling, Tentacles and Anchors because they just made so much sense - even I find those things to be true.

I came away from reading It's Kind Of A Funny Story with a sense of peace. Though it would occasionally come back and try to bite him in the butt, I was happy that Craig was able to make the solid decision to live, to try to beat the odds instead of letting the depression, despair and hopelessness win. It inspired me in a way to try and do the same - to fight for my dreams, to fight to live and to try and beat any odds despite the many people (or even society in general) telling me I can't.

I loved the insertion of art as a way for Craig to deal with his depression, or in his terminology, an Anchor. The concept of brain maps as art is quirky, unique and I would love to have Craig make me my own masterpiece. I think the other reason I could appreciate the idea of art as an anchor is because I think that's what writing is for me. I've always believed that having a creative outlet is important and I feel like this story explains why I would believe that better than I ever could.

I leave you now with my favorite (and a very inspiring) quote from the story - "Dreams are only dreams until you wake up and make them real."


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