Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's Kind of a Funny Story

I've heard a steady, low rumbling of decency for this book. It seems that the approval has been hushed and that's either because of the subject matter of this book or maybe it's not as popular amongst the readers and book-loving friends of mine. But here's the deal: It's a great book. It can be a little uncomfortable if you are sensitive to the subject matter but it also can be thought provoking, funny, and enlightening.

So enough of the vague commentary from me. It's Kind of a Funny Story is about depression. Well, there is a lot more to the book than just the big D but that's the issue. The main character suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts. He takes the initiative to try and save himself and ends up temporarily in a psychiatric ward.

Knowing many people who have suffered from depression and at times facing the ordeal myself (but not to such an extreme) I feel that Ned Vizzini broached the topic in a wonderful way. It seems that depression is a taboo subject just as suicide is. People are afraid to discuss it or admit that it's real. Really, any mental illness or disorder is something people shy away from. But Vizzini adds humor, not to the point of being offensive, and gives the reader a clear depiction of what it's like to be in the main character's shoes and feeling as low as he feels. The book is enjoyable rather than uncomfortable and yet you still are left thinking and considering that there are so many people (and teens) who suffer from an assortment of issues. It helps that Vizzini has experience in this area himself and gives more life to his writing and feels more honest.

The book is classified as a YA book which usually throws up a red flag for some readers. They wrinkle their nose at the idea of reading a YA book, categorizing it with Twilight and novels blabbering about first true loves. In general, YA books have a stigma for not being very well written and to be honest, most YA books aren't well written. But there are the few that stand out. The few that should not be shunned because they are labeled YA and are decently written. They have a mind and a story and fluidity and creativity that other YA books lack. This book is one of those books. One of those YA books that adults should read as well as teens. It's that powerful, that moving, that eye opening, and yes - that amusing.

Life sucks and it's hard to live. Vizzini is honest about that. But it's all about finding the things that make life worth living and worth pushing past the sucky parts. I've seen a lot of books about teen suicide and yes, that should be highlighted, but it should also be shown that low, that point where you feel there is no return, and then the slow struggle to standing up straight again and facing the world head on. I feel it leaves a good message: a lot of people face this kind of hardship but it doesn't necessarily make you any less important. But with help and support you can gather yourself and live again and life is worth living.

The book ends on a positive note but it isn't sappy. The entire book, I feel, is well done. Have I seen the movie based off this book? No. I'm not entirely sure I want to because so much of this book happens in the main character's mind and I feel like I could miss some of the more important points. Not to say that the movie lacks the important points, obviously I don't know since I haven't seen it. But I have a clear attachment to this book and I don't want it mared by the movie. It's really worth the read, whether you or someone you know has experienced depression or not.

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