Name of Book: It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Author: Ned Vizzini
Audience: 13 and up. For teenagers who are well aware of the very real teenage issues of drugs, sex, love, and depression. It is not for readers who may be bothered by some foul language, sexual references, or conversations about suicide.
Summary: This serious, but funny story addresses what some teens and adults go through with depression. As a temporary patient in a mental ward, Craig, the main character and narrator, learns that he isn’t the only one who is having problems succeeding at life. By befriending and helping some of the patients, he also helps himself. Together they discover the blessings of life and how to cope with the obstacles that sometimes gets in the way of happiness.
Literary elements at work in the story: Realistic Fiction
Based on personal experience, the author makes the characters seem very real. With genuine care and empathy, he introduces the reader to a wide range of interesting people who are having problems with money, drugs, alcohol, homelessness, and more.
Creatively finding a way to laugh at depression, Ned Vizzini shows his audience that no problem is worth hurting ourselves over. Instead, we are encouraged to find humor and hope in the challenges we face. With good descriptions and details, he creates a balance between seriousness, laughter, and optimism.
The setting is in the adult mental ward of a Brooklyn hospital, as the teen ward was unavailable due to a renovation project.
Theme: The main theme is about struggle and how the patients deal with the stress that comes from unhappiness, mental disabilities, addictions, relationships and/or love.
Perspective: The perspective is that of a high school kid who is trying to deal with the various pressures of adulthood.
Theology: Prayer, instead of worry, can release a person from fear and anxiety.
In the story, there is an emphasis on the first part of the Serenity Prayer: “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The story triggers reflective thought about life and how we should all be grateful for the blessings we have. As we compare our problems to some with much worse issues, this book helps us to realize that things are not so bad after all.
Theological Conversation Parnters:
Counting our blessings – God’s guidance and instruction to you – Psalm 16:7, 48:14, 71:17; Turning worries into prayer – when you were in trouble, God heard your cries for help – Psalm 18:6, 22:24; Before giving up on life read what Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest” – John 10:10.
Faith Talk Questions:
1. The Serenity prayer asks for wisdom to know the difference between things we can and cannot change? How can we have the wisdom to know the difference?
2. How can the Serenity Prayer help soldiers, alcoholics, and people who are overly stressed? Who else would this prayer be suitable for?
3. What advice could you offer to someone who might be contemplating suicide?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Gina Craft.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.