It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

funny_story_frontInformation: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini was published in 2006 by Miramax. ISBN: 078685197X

Plot Summary: Craig Gilner is a very ambitious teenagers, determined to reach all of his goals and dreams. To begin meeting his dreams, Craig needs to get into the perfect New York high school, Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School. Craig studies diligently and is able to pass the test to getting into his dream school. But Craig worked so hard and the pressure had built up so much, Craig suffers a breakdown. He stops being able to function and almost kills himself. His suicide attempt lands him in a mental hospital, where he meets many different teens suffering from varying mental illnesses. While Craig is at the hospital, he is forced to reevaluate how he sees the world, his goals, and himself.

Critical Evaluation: Ned Vizzini offers an in depth look at mental illness with his story about Craig. Craig’s time in the mental hospital reflects Ned’s own time in a hospital. It’s Kind of a Funny Story blends enough of Ned’s real life with fiction to present a novel that opens up the discussion of suicide and mental illness. His writing pulls in the harshness of real life with humor and understanding to show that mental illness is survivable. Ned Vizzini took such a dark topic and made it relatable and heartfelt for all those who suffer from mental illness.

Reader’s Annotation: Craig Gilner suffers a breakdown while trying to achieve all of his high school goals and dreams. After being hospitalized for a suicide attempt, Craig is forced to face the causes of his anxiety and depression among the other kids on the hospital floor.

Author’s Information: Edison Price Vizzini was the birth name of a late American writer, Ned Vizzini. He is renowned for his acclaimed work in young adult literature. Although he wrote a handful of novels in his short lifetime, his works had a mass readership.

Vizzini was born on April 4, 1981 and grew up in Brooklyn, New York City. In 1999, he graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. His school life became a kind of a model for the some characters and events in his novels. Vizzini started off writing at a young age of 15. He began his writing career with an essay that was published in New York Press. His freelance job allowed him to write on an array of topics from his family vacation experience to drinking experience. Vizzini’s work was recognized and praised as he was offered a job at the prestigious New York Times Magazine. Here he was required to produce articles concerning teenagers.

The book entitled It’s Kind of a Funny Story, is inspired by a true event in his life. In an interview Vizzini professed that 85% of the novel story is actually true. When he was 23, he called a suicide hotline and was admitted in the adult wing of a psychiatric hospital in Brooklyn.

In the novel he shared his personal experience of severe depression and of staying at the hospital. The book alters the events slightly as it features 15 year old protagonist Craig Gilner suffering from suicidal depression. Craig’s social inadequacy at the school is shown to be the causative of his illness which he shares with his creator. The novel was able to garner positive response from the critics and readers and also had Vizzini won 2007 Best Book for Young Adults from the American Library Association. It was adapted into film in 2010 by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (Famous Authors).

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health

Curriculum Ties: (Florida State Curriculum Standards): Understanding Key Literary Ideas

Book Talk Ideas:

  • Craig learns about all kinds of things people go through when meeting other teens. How can we become more aware of what other people are going through?
  • What events led up to Craig’s “Shift” and do you think he will keep up his positive outlook on life? What ways can we encourage others who are struggling to keep up a positive outlook?

Reading Level/ Age Interest: Grades 9-12 (Scholastic) and Ages 15-18

Challenge Issues: Depression, Suicide, Drinking, Drugs, Sex, Language

Challenge Defense File:

Selection Policy

The System will select and maintain a comprehensive collection of print, non-print, audio visual and electronically accessed materials to meet the informational, educational, and recreational needs of the citizens of Sarasota County. The System will strive to offer wide ranging collections that meet the various ages, interests, educational levels, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community and will provide collections through which an individual may explore all points of view and issues of interest. In making selections, the library staff will do so based upon principle rather than personal opinion, reason rather than prejudice, and judgment rather than censorship. Furthermore, staff will be responsive to public demand for materials of contemporary significance and interest, while balancing this with the need to collect and preserve materials of permanent value. While library staff makes material selections based upon the tenet of one system, one collection, selectors recognize the distinct characteristics and needs of the populace that each library services. Community profiles are used to guide selectors in efforts to develop special collections and to meet the unique patron needs within each library.

The ultimate responsibility for selection materials rests with the General Manager of Libraries and the Management Team, who in turn delegates selection responsibilities to the Collection Development Librarians (Sarasota County Policy).  

Rationale

Vizzini, N. (2006). It’s Kind of a Funny Story. New York, New York:  Miramax. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini was published for high school students in 2006. Vizzini took his own personal experiences and put them into the novel in order to explore mental illness in teens. The novel examines the major pressure that is put on teens in high school and the different ways teens can heal from mental illnesses. Other recommendations like this book include: Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes, and Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King.

Active Listening Skills

  • Remain calm
  • Listen thoughtfully and carefully to any arguments for the collection
  • Engage in a discussion that considers every concern, even if you do not agree

Awards

  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults (2007)
  • Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2009)

Reconsideration Form

Reviews

Selection Tools:

Why I chose this book:

I chose this book for it’s personal look into having mental illness as a teenager. Vizzini tied in enough of his personal life to make a Craig’s journey to survival very realistic and relatable.

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