Monday, January 22, 2007

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Vizzini, Ned. 2006. IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786851961 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

After gaining admittance to Manhattan’s exclusive Executive Pre-Professional High School, Craig Gilner quickly learns that the pressure is simply too much; his grades aren’t up to par, and the constant stress causes him be restless, detached, and to be unable to keep any food down. Turning to drugs to fight his depression, he ultimately chooses to attempt suicide. After reaching out to a suicide hotline, Craig decides to check himself into a psychiatric hospital. During his five day stay, he comes to terms with his life, as well as his mental health and discovers what really matters to him.

While the topic of Vizzini’s semi-autobiographical story is quite serious, he allows his narrator to share the humor he finds in life. Using Craig’s interactions and the budding relationships he forms with the cast of potentially crazy secondary characters, Vizzini also allows his protagonist to draw on these experiences and relationships as a source for healing. The well-paced narrative offers a painful, yet poignant glimpse into a troubled teen’s life.

After reading the novel, teens could write in their journals about their struggles with pressure. After writing, participants could share their stories and collaborate to create a list of strategies to help deal with teen pressure.

Readers could research teen depression to determine typical treatments used to combat this illness. After collecting the research, teens could share their findings with each other using a variety of multimedia.

Other similar young adult novels:
Anderson, Laurie Halse. SPEAK. ISBN 014131088X
Chbosky, Stephen. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. ISBN 0671027344
McCormick, Patricia. CUT. ISBN 0439324599

By Rose Brock

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