It's Kind of a Funny Story

By Ned Vizzini, Rachel Cohn

226,183 ratings - 4.1* vote

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life - which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.Craig's suicidal episode gets h Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life - which means getting into the

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Book details

Paperback, 444 pages
May 1st 2007 by Disney-Hyperion

(first published March 21st 2006)

Original Title
It's Kind of a Funny Story
078685197X (ISBN13: 9780786851973)
Edition Language

Community Reviews

Richard Derus

In respectful acknowledgment of Vizzini's suicide on 19 December 2013, I have cleared my rating of his book and removed my review.

There is no more tragic occurrence in a family's life than the suicide of one of its members. My most heartfelt sympathy to Vizzini's wife and young son.

Megs ♥

I came across this movie the other day on TV and watched it. I didn't think the movie was great or anything, but I thought the idea of the story was interesting. So I decided to give the book a try. I loved this book. It is about teens and it discusses suicide, sex, drugs and more, but it is a great book with an important message. Sometimes you have to get all the way to the bottom of the barrel before you can get back to the top.

Craig is like a lot of teens nowadays. Overly stressed out. He is very smart and has a seemingly bright future ahead of him until he decides that being a teenager is simply too much to handle and he contemplated just how easy it would be to commit suicide. Luckily, instead, he calls a suicide hotline, but then he shocks his family when he checks himself into a mental hospital. Only problem is that the teen ward is closed down so he is forced to live with the adult patients and meets an interesting group of people.

This was a very touching story and one that everyone who has ever had depression can probably relate to even if just a small amount. It's an inspiring story, because it shows that there are ways to get help. The self discovery that Craig goes through is amazing. He learns that no matter how bad you think your life is, there is always someone worse off. Of course we all know that, but we may forget it sometimes, especially when we are at our low points and throwing ourselves pity parties thinking things couldn't be worse.

The characters were all well written, and I really feel the fact that the author had been in a mental hospital before showed through the vivid descriptions of the place and types of people you may see there. I'm not sure why, but I feel like the fact that he is a now successful person and openly admits that he had a stay in a mental hospital makes this book stand out to me in comparison to most other YA books that deal with mental illness. It's one thing to write about these things even having well researched the subject, but it's entirely different writing about them after experiencing them firsthand.

Also, I thought the writing in general was good. I love when an author can write about such a sad subject, but make humor shine throughout. This book is about suicide, but it's not depressing. I laughed a few times as well. The only parts I didn't enjoy were the romantic ones. It seemed totally contrived. The chances of two teens put into an adult ward and falling in love are just so bad.

The best part about this story was Craig's upbringing. This wasn't the typical suicide story where they kid had it rough, and in the end couldn't take it. He had a great family with supportive parents and a beautiful little sister. He was quite privileged, and I'm glad that author was able to show that mental illness does not discriminate. Even the most together person in the world can suddenly become depressed and the stigma attached to mental illness is something that infuriates me.

Even though this book was made into a movie it doesn't seem too popular so maybe I'm in the minority. Maybe it just isn't well marketed. I have no idea, but I would recommend this book for sure.

Emma Giordano

I'm so happy I finally read this book! It's been recommend to me for YEARS and I have no idea why I've been putting it off for so long.

I loved the way this book captured depression and suicidal idealization. I really resonated with Craig's story. He really spoke to me and his journey of growth was very inspirational in my opinion. I also feel it had a more positive view of inpatient treatment/crisis intervention. A lot of YA books that approach this topic go the route of showing it as an unpleasant, unhelpful, "get-me-out-of-here-as-soon-as-possible" place. (And while that is true for my personal experiences), I think it is extremely important we have a positive view of these situations as well so not to discourage individuals from entering a hospital that may very well save their life.

Overall, I truly loved this book. Definitely one of my new favorite mental illness novels! (Let's be real, I say that every time I read a new mental illness novel bUT I MEAN IT THIS TIME.) It's Kind of a Funny Story really stands out to me as a well-developed, beautifully constructed novel with an immense amount of depth and growth within it's pages. I would highly highly recommend!


I refuse to believe that writing a book from the perspective of a fifteen year old boy is any excuse for the level of transphobia, sexism, homophobia, and classism that defines this book. I kept trying to excuse the narrator--he's fifteen, he's sheltered, he's a stupid kid who wants to have sex with every female-bodied person he encounters (minus the poor ones, duh)--but that's not fair to fifteen year old boys. I was tolerating the book until Craig, our hero, refers to a human being as "he/she/it" and that was probably the high point of his encounter with a trans-woman. (When she got human pronouns at all, it was always, always "he.") She was hypersexualized, devious, lying, manipulative, and disconcertingly hot.

But it's OK because Craig is our HERO. He knows he's flawed (as he continuously reminds the reader, he has to be to end up in a psychiatric treatment facility--but, of course, his depression is his only real flaw and the cause of all of the ways in which he treats other people terribly) but he becomes the Savior of Six North, helping the other patients with his penis and his privilege. (I say this at the risk of sounding like an angry feminist. But, well, I'm a feminist and this book made me angry.)

From the sexual assault survivor he teaches to love again (though his continued advances are clearly unwanted and unneeded), to the poor man he saves with the shirt off his own back, all of the other patients in Six North LOVE Craig and are sure to tell his parents what a great kid he is. The ones that don't love him are just too messed up to see what a great guy he is. Somehow, amid all the Craig-worship, we get a few moments to laugh at the silly conflict in the middle east and their silly religions. That's fun!

Vizzini manages to pack in everything that could possibly mortify and still save room for tedious writing and contrived plot devices. I would say it was a waste of time, but a little bit of self-righteous indignation can be nice from time to time. Unfortunately, this was more than a little bit of self-righteous indignation.


my immediate reaction after reading this: its kind of a funny boring story.

oh boy. i cant help but feel a bit let down by this. throw in some guilt to the emotional mix and you have me not wanting to write this review.

first things first - i understand that this book was written the month after vizzini spent some time in a psychiatric hospital and was based on his own experiences there (hence my guilt for rating this so poorly). i do think that was an asset to the story, as it really portrayed depression and anxiety authentically. however, as much as i hate criticising personal experiences, that was probably the only good thing about this book.

everything else was just kind of meh. the main character is often described as having a ‘flat affect’, and thats exactly how i would describe this story - its just completely devoid of any sort of emotion. a boy admits himself into a facility, he meets some (heavily exaggerated) people, he gets released five days later. thats really all that happens. the writing and emotive qualities are just so simplistic and flat that it renders any sort of insightful moments ineffective.

so whilst i thought some aspects of this book were decent, im not sure i would recommend it to anyone. i feel like there are many more impactful and effective stories about mental illness/health out there that would be better.

2.5 stars


Young Adult books seem to have a few formulas: divorce, unrequited love, death of a parent, self-transformation, and as of late... vampires. Oh... and angst. Usually always angst. Sometimes these can be written quite loverly. As with the few that have been jostled around GR lately,Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Book Thief ,I Am the Messenger ... These authors will come along and break, twist, switch it And manage to rise above the whole stigma of what it means to be reading YA.

I think I found another one. Ned Vizzini.... I knew nothing of you prior to finding you on the GMBA (Green Mountain Book Award) list. And, well... that introduced me to Zusak, Foer, Vowell... So, I jumped in all willy nilly.

You didn't disappoint. In fact, you're one of those child prodigies---publishing your first book at 19. He began writing articles for The New York Times Press while still in school and continues to do so, getting an essay published in The New York Times Magazine….yeah, I hate you.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story centers on Craig Gilner, 15. Basic overachiever, two parent household, precocious little sister, privileged. Not someone that I usually bond with. But, the writing is so dead on… so unpretentious and raw. I loved it. Usually I’d be all ‘cry me a river, buddy’ but to watch this 15 yr old lose it. (Yes, I don’t put it quite so eloquently…deal)—You really get sucked in.

You get to think. How much pressure is there on kids to succeed? Did it start with my generation? I don’t remember the be all end all of my parents having to complete college. I come from a very blue collar situation, my father didn’t even finish junior high… Yet, it was ingrained in me to get into college and that if I didn’t, I’d be a nobody. A loser. Forget about making anything of yourself. Now it seems that even THAT is not enough. It has to be the right college, with the right grades (93s are average, my friend), you have to have the RIGHT extracurriculars… etc, etc.

Who wouldn’t break down? Craig’s disconnect reminds me of Oskar in Extremely Loud…he has his own terms… his own language. ‘Tentacles’ are the ‘evil tasks that invade life and then jut out into new tasks that lead to new ones that take him away from his original goal -‘Cycling’ is when his brain won’t shut down, it repeats each tentacle… which leads to the ultimate failure. A ‘fake shift’ is when you think that these issues are being resolved, but it’s only a front… a temporary reprieve. ‘Anchors’ are the items that hold him down… keep him safe.
He finally decides that he’s going to take the big leap off the Brooklyn Bridge…that this is the ultimate anchor, but instead finds himself self admitting into a psychiatric ward in a local hospital.

Here is where Craig shines, finds his voice. And it’s not overtly formulaic. You see yourself in this fucked up kid…you see how he can relate to amphetamine heads and transvestites and how he can reach back and truly find his anchor…which happens to be making ‘brain maps’--- drawing the streets, highways, bridges, traffic circles, chaos, order, symmetry, beauty that’s in all of us, wrapped around firing neurons and SSRIs and warped brain cells.

It’s truly beautiful. It’s funny, typical teenage boy shit and a joy to read. Sounds strange, but---not. Because this is life and it can suck and it can hurt and it can overwhelm and make you feel minuscule and that’s okay. Because every now and then ‘okay’ can be your anchor and maybe there will be less days when it will suck. When we realize, like said in this book ‘life can’t be cured, but it can be managed.’ We hope.


It took me a while to finish, but I liked it.Full review to come!


Take a good helping of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," add a heaping spoonful of "Girl, Interrupted," and stir in a dollop or two of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," and you'll have a good idea what you're going to get with "Funny Story."

A week after the author, Ned Vizzini, was discharged from his own stay in the psychiatric ward of a New York hospital, he began the tale of depressed teen Craig Gilner. On the point of suicide, Craig checks himself into the hospital, hoping to come to find hope beyond his depression. Inside he gains perspective on his illness, his current lifestyle, and his own talents and strengths.

Smoothly written with a strong voice, "Funny Story" is full of vivid, real characters. What rings less true is Craig's almost-miraculous recovery and ability to gain a new lease on life after only five days. However, the fairly unbelievably happy ending was welcome after the flood of depressing books that seem to be hitting the charts.


Craig Gilner is an ambitious teen wanting to get into the best school, go to the best college, and get the best job. When he gets accepted into the Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, Craig believes he is headed on the right track. Soon, however, the pressure becomes too much. The class work, extracurricular activities, friends, girls, email, and pot smoking become more than he can bear.

One night Craig decides to take his own life. Before he does he reach out to the Suicide Hotline. Craig goes to the hospital and admits himself into a mental hospital. From there he meets the residents and gets on the road to better understanding his illness.

I found this novel to be right on the mark. I too have spent time in a mental hospital on suicide watch. I felt Ned Vizzini handled the issues of anxiety, depression and suicide with humor (You'll understand the humor when you read the novel.) and tacked, even the cycling of thoughts is handled well. It helps us to appreciate the story more knowing that the author spent time in a mental hospital. Unfortunately, Ned Vizzini committed suicide in December 2013. I recommend this book to better understand the issues of anxiety, depression and suicide.


I read this in less than 24 hours. All I can say is, that it's still such an important read and one of all-time favorite books. I recommend it to everyone.