It's Kind of a Funny Story Summary
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is a 2006 novel about Craig Gilner, a 15-year-old boy who struggles with depression.
- Craig is a high school student facing academic and social pressures. He increasingly experiences cyclical, depressive, and suicidal thoughts.
- One evening, he plans to take his life, but instead he calls a suicide hotline and is admitted to a psychiatric hospital.
- Craig spends five days at the hospital, where he learns more about himself and his condition through his interactions with the doctors and the other patients.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story begins when fifteen-year-old protagonist and narrator Craig is spending time at his friend Aaron’s house with several other friends. In his narration, Craig reveals to the reader that he wants to kill himself.
Craig meets with his therapist, Dr. Minerva. He discusses the “Anchors” in his life—the things that distract him and make him feel happy—as opposed to the “Tentacles” in his life—the unwanted tasks that he feels are forced upon him. With Dr. Minerva, he remembers how he enjoyed mapmaking as a child and wanted to become a mapmaker.
On his walk back home, Craig describes the Brooklyn neighborhood he lives in and the “problem with food” he has experienced since becoming depressed. He is often unable to eat, while at other times he is able to eat as much as he wants.
Craig has dinner with his family—his parents and his younger sister, Sarah. Eating is a struggle, and after dinner he runs to the bathroom to vomit.
While Craig does not know why he is depressed, he relates to the reader the chain of events leading up to his current situation. He begins by sharing how, two years earlier, he was accepted to a prestigious Manhattan high school. Having prepared obsessively for the entrance exam, he was thrilled to be accepted. His best friend at the time, Aaron, was also accepted. To celebrate, Aaron threw a party while his parents were gone. During the party, Craig tried pot for the first time, and Aaron and Nia became a couple. After the party, Craig and Aaron went for a walk. Craig, feeling good, “howl[ed]” off the Brooklyn Bridge.
Craig completed junior high, spending a lot of time smoking pot at Aaron’s house and becoming increasingly jealous of Aaron’s relationship with Nia. He quickly became overwhelmed with the high school workload and intimidated by other students. In December, he experienced “stress vomiting” for the first time; he told his parents that he felt depressed.
Craig saw Dr. Barney, who prescribed him Zoloft and recommended that he see a therapist. Craig felt a “placebo effect” immediately after taking Zoloft. He confided to Nia that he was depressed, and she admitted that she was also depressed. Craig felt better due to the Zoloft, so he decided to stop taking it.
Back in the present timeline, two months after he has stopped taking Zoloft, Craig finds himself vomiting after dinner with his family. He decides to kill himself that night. He plans to sleep in his mother’s bed and wake up in the early morning hours to sneak out to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.
Craig calls Nia to find out if there was ever any potential for them to become a couple, and she says there was. He is unable to sleep. He tries to do push-ups to exhaust himself physically. Afterward, he feels his heart beating and realizes that his heart wants to live. Craig finds a book of his mother’s and follows instructions to call a local suicide hotline.
Craig is redirected to an anxiety management center; the man he speaks to recommends that he call the national suicide hotline. Craig calls that number, and agrees to go to the hospital. Craig goes to the emergency room and calls his parents from there. With their support, he checks himself into the psychiatric ward. Although he initially thinks he is agreeing to a short visit, he learns that he will be in “Six North”—as the floor is called—for days.
(The entire section is 1,201 words.)