Book Review: It’s Kind Of A Funny Story

I sometimes feel frightened when loneliness pays me a visit.

I wouldn’t think of myself as somebody who is overly pensive or constantly melancholic. But there are just days—random, unexpected days—that life catches me off guard and makes me vulnerable to a handful of negative vibes. These days obviously suck, because as strong as I force myself to be, I end up in a messy heap of blah.

And it is during these particular times that I question my behavior and think that maybe, I’m just being irrational. Or that there really is no reason for me to feel sad. Or I’m just brewing trouble for myself. But whatever. We’re only human and we can’t blame ourselves for feeling such emotions. They define our mortality and our imperfections, separating us from the Divine. I guess what matters is our ability to cope with challenging situations such as this one, and hopefully, turn the tables around and make it something beautiful and worthwhile.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini was sitting on myself since August 25, 2010. I remember because I jot down the purchase dates on the books I buy. I also do a lot of highlighting and underlining. Sometimes, I add notes on the margins when I feel the words strike a chord or two.

Unfortunately I did not have the privilege of having a pen or highlighter with me while I was reading this book. Probably because it was too captivating and riveting, that searching for a pen and paper would break my moment. I was really into the book. It was extremely mesmerizing and the writing was witty.

In a nutshell, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a story about depression. A boy named Craig Gilner confines himself in a mental hospital after an episode of contemplating suicide. It’s the usual happy ending. He gets healed, gets out of the hospital, and gets the girl. But it was the process of healing that moved my heart. As a result, I found myself thinking about the beauty of second chances and how little power we have over our lives. I mean, think about it. You can choose to end your life whenever you want, but finding that willpower to really go out and live your life despite the tentacles pulling you down is really something else.

Craig’s background starts with his acceptance into one of the most prestigious high schools in the country. He has a jackass of a best friend whose girlfriend drives Craig crazy in love. But then, Craig feels the pressure of having to get excellent grades in order to have an excellent life after school. He soon lost his appetite, lost his time, lost his mind…

Until finally, he cracked.

Craig could have taken his own life by throwing himself off a bridge, but he chose to live. He knew he had a problem so he confined himself in a mental hospital. In the hospital, he met a group of colorful and diverse characters that made him feel comfortable in his own shoes. Just when he thinks that he has lost everything he could hold on to, he meets a girl named Noelle who just happened to give him the extra nudge he needed all along.

What I find inspiring about the book is the rawness and honesty of it. The idea of sadness wasn’t depicted as an emotion, rather, as a battle. The way Craig dealt with his situation was very brave and almost heroic, seeing how he was able to fight his biggest enemy—himself. There are a lot of great quotes that you could find in this gem of a book…quotes that cover sensitive topics such as regret and sadness. The feeling of depression is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s such a heavy emotional burden that facing and doing something about it is quite admirable.

I admit that there are times when I don’t know where to draw the line between “feeling blue” and “feeling depressed”. Though technically speaking, they are two completely different things, but maybe it’s because the words “What can feel worse than this?” start spilling when I feel like my world is being crushed. We usually take the term “depressed” loosely without thinking about its implications in the real world. But in this book, we read about the internal struggle that has gnawed and fed upon Craig’s entire person, and we see him turn that darkness into light. He found his Shift, and my fleeting lonely days aren’t even worth an iota compared to what Craig went through.

I felt like such a coward after reading this book. Honestly, I don’t even try to face my loneliness. I tend to wallow too much and wait for it to go away. What’s worse is that I realized how much I have taken my life’s “Anchors” for granted. There is so much love and beauty in the form of friends and family. I really have no right to feel pathetic.

This last part of the book is quite compelling and sums up what the whole point of the book is in one word. Can you guess?

“Run. Eat. Drink. Eat more. Don’t throw up. Instead, take a piss. Then take a crap. Wipe your butt. Make a phone call. Open a door. Ride your bike. Ride in a car. Ride in a subway. Talk. Talk to people. Read. Read maps. Make maps. Make art. Talk about your art. Sell your art. Take a test. Get into a school. Celebrate. Have a party. Write a thank-you note to someone. Hug your mom. Kiss your dad. Kiss your little sister. Make out with Noelle. Make out with her more. Touch her. Hold her hand. Take her out somewhere. Meet her friends. Run down a street with her. Take her on a picnic. Eat wither her. See a movie with her. See a movie with Aaron. Heck, see a movie with Nia, once you’re cool with her. Get cool with more people. Drink coffee in little coffee-drinking places. Tell people your story. Volunteer. Go back to Six North. Walk in as a volunteer and say high to everyone who waited on you as a patient. Help people. Help people like Bobby. Get people books and music that they want when they’re in there. Help people like Muqtada. Show them how to draw. Draw more. Try drawing a landscape. Try drawing a person. Try drawing a naked person. Try drawing Noelle naked. Travel. Fly. Swim. Meet. Love. Dance. Win. Smile. Laugh. Hold. Walk. Skip. Okay, it’s gay, whatever. Skip. Ski. Sled. Play basketball. Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run home and enjoy. Enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours, Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to stay here. So now live for real, Craig, Live. Live. Live. Live.

Live.”

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