It's Kind of a Funny Story

by Ned Vizzini

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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.


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Last Updated on September 17, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1201

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.

Upon arriving at Six North, Craig is interviewed by a nurse and given a tour...

(This entire section contains 1201 words.)

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of the floor by another patient. Craig meets his roommate, Muqtada, and meets other patients during lunch and dinner. One patient, Noelle, offers to meet him the next evening. During his first day, Craig has arguments with both Nia and Aaron over the phone.

During his second day at Six North, Craig enjoys the simplicity of the hospital and develops friendships with several other patients. He meets with Noelle, and they get to know each other quickly in a fast-paced question-and-answer game. Afterward, during an arts-and-crafts session, Craig rediscovers his love of making maps. A fellow patient, Ebony, says that the maps are brains, and Craig agrees with her.

On Monday, his third day at Six North, Craig feels the stressors of the outside world reaching him, particularly schoolwork. Dr. Minerva calls Craig’s principal and, to Craig’s relief, his principal is understanding. His stress with schoolwork is merely postponed, however, not entirely resolved. During their session, Dr. Minerva warns Craig against using people as Anchors, as they are unreliable.

While playing cards together, a group of patients celebrates Bobby’s successful interview with a group home. The game is broken up, however, when an argument erupts between Humble and the Professor.

The next day, Craig talks with Johnny and Bobby about drugs and sex. He participates in the group music session led by a man named Neil. Neil suggests that Craig might want to volunteer in the psychiatric hospital after he gets out.

To Craig’s surprise, Nia visits him. She has broken up with Aaron, and, despite Craig’s better judgement, she and Craig end up kissing in his room. They are interrupted by Muqtada, and Nia leaves in anger.

Craig meets with Noelle, who is angry with him after seeing his whole encounter with Nia. Craig tells Noelle what he likes about her, and Noelle shares why she cut her face.

At dinner, Craig shares his theory that he has suffered a “sixth-life crisis” and discusses his thoughts on why depression is being diagnosed earlier and earlier.

Craig begins his last day at Six North with a cold shower. During a meeting with Dr. Minerva, he shares that his artwork can be an Anchor for him. Through his conversation with her, Craig decides to transfer schools.

Aaron visits Craig, bringing the record of Egyptian music that Craig had asked for. Aaron apologizes to Craig.

Craig creates artistic portraits for the different patients in Six North. When his parents visit, he discusses transferring to an art school, and they agree. Craig’s father returns that evening to join in a viewing of the movie Blade II. Halfway through the movie, Craig slips away to play Egyptian music at the end of a hall. Muqtada is lured out of his room by the music, and even agrees to play cards with Armelio. While Muqtada is out of the room, Craig and Noelle meet there and share a sexual experience.

The next morning, Craig’s parents come to take Craig home. Various patients say goodbye to Craig. After they leave the hospital, Craig asks his parents if he can walk home on his own. As he walks alone, Craig is aware of different parts of his body, and his experience of the spring day around him. He reflects on “the Shift” that he senses and the importance of his brain as the gateway to his experience of life. He feels an urge to do many different things, to experience life. Ultimately, he feels an urge to live.


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