it’s kind of a funny story

This is an underappreciated young adult novel, but it kind of makes sense to be that way, because the first 50 pages or so (prior to hospitalization) Craig is super annoying. It isn’t until he admits himself that we see he is much more than just another apathetic, antisocial teenager who does drugs and likes weird stuff; he’s actually really smart and sensitive and self-aware, and it becomes painfully obvious that he wants to be better but he also doesn’t want to be selfish or self-indulgent in his healing process. He becomes a beacon of hope for his fellow psych patients and realizes he hasn’t done anything wrong by being depressed. I love that depression in this story isn’t his defining feature, or a cheap plot twist, or an excuse to have a character hit an all-time low; this is a real depiction of depression, how it can look totally fine on the outside and then be complete chaos on the inside, how it gets romanticized and exaggerated and pretty much everything except accurately represented by most people, and most importantly, how depression isn’t a person’s fault but also isn’t a permanent state of being. It may not be laugh-out-loud funny, but I was really impressed by Vizzini’s careful portrayal of what it’s like to get psychiatric help and the rollercoaster of emotions and actions that ensue as a result. The language at times is absolutely gorgeous; of course, at other times, it is ruined by synthetic teenage slang. I wish everyone could read this, though, because there is a problem with our society when people are driven to depression at younger and younger ages – an eighth-life crisis, as Craig calls it – and it’s about time that we talk about mental illness instead of making it taboo or a stigma.

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