Craig Gilner has a loving, supportive and understanding family. His parents are still together and his little sister is affectionate, smart and funny. He has a group of friends and he goes to the best, most challenging school in New York City.
He's also clinically depressed. He can't eat, and on the rare occasions that he manages to force some food down, he can't keep it down. He has a hard time even finishing his sentences. His grades start to tank -- his average is a 93, not nearly what he needs to go to Harvard or Yale, certainly not anywhere near what his peers are earning, and they're all participating in extra-curriculars, too. It's a good day if he can get through the day without vomiting, let alone join the Chess Club. He worries incessantly:
... which meant I wasn't going to get into a Good College, which meant I wasn't going to have a Good Job, which meant I wasn't going to have health insurance, which I'd have to pay tremendous amounts for the shrinks and drugs my brain needed, which meant I wasn't going to have enough money to pay for a Good Lifestyle, which meant I'd feel ashamed, which meant I'd get depressed, and that was the big one because I knew what that did to me: it made it so I wouldn't get out of bed, which led to the ultimate thing--homelessness. If you can't get out of your bed for long enough, people come and take your bed away.
His doctor puts him on Zoloft and he slowly starts feeling normal again. Until he decides that he doesn't need the drugs anymore.
One bad night, Craig ends up calling a suicide prevention hotline. By noon the next day, he has checked himself into a mental hospital.
While some of the book seemed a tad unrealistic to me -- he learns more about himself in five days than most would in five years AND finds a lady AND is able to help a bunch of other people in very significant ways -- Craig's voice made it easy to suspend my disbelief and just go along for the ride.
His voice did make it difficult for me to really get into the book at first -- he's so emotionally disconnected from himself and everyone around him that I found it hard to form attachments. In the hospital, that changes.
I don't think the emotional disconnect is a flaw. It's just the opposite -- before Craig checked in, the only person I had any real affection for was his sister, who seemed to also be the only person who could penetrate Craig's fog. As he started to put himself back together, he started making connections with others, which allowed me to do the same. It's pretty impressive.
So. Another J/YA author has shown James Frey what he should have done.
It's Kind of a Funny Story is followed up by this note:
Ned Vizzini spent five days in adult psychiatric in Methodist Hospital, Park Slope, Brooklyn, 11/29/04-12/3/04.
Ned wrote this 12/10/04-1/6/05.
See how it works? Instead of being left wondering which parts are a lie, you are left wondering which parts are true -- which people are real. It's a MUCH more positive way of doing things. Thanks for showing people how it should be done, Ned Vizzini.