I finished reading Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind Of A Funny Story a couple of weeks ago. So, yeah, this book came out a while ago and you’re probably wondering why I’m just getting around to it now. Well, first of all, there is A LOT of wonderful YA literature out there. And second, this might sound a little weird, but sometimes I like reading a book when the hype around it has died down—kind of like I’m discovering it on my own and enjoying that little world all by myself. I know, this is totally backwards, but so is setting your clocks eight, ten, or, er, thirty-seven minutes ahead of the actual time so you’re forced to do the math in the morning and you kind of get the feeling that you’re tricking time or something…and well I do that, too. Hey, I know, okay? I know.
Anyway, back to the book. If your following me on Twitter, you know I gave a shout out to Mr. Vizzini for this story. But I couldn’t very well fit all the reasons this book rocks in a mere 140 characters, so here’s a quick rundown of several reasons I love this book and the one major reason every teen should read it:
1. It’s a quick and easy read. Okay, it’s kind of long, but it’s still a fast read.
2. It’s character-driven. Sometimes people think character-driven books are boring because they’re not full of plot twists, but not so. While this is basically a story about teenage boy trying to figure stuff out and deal with life, it absolutely keeps you turning the page because you care about him, you want to know if he’ll be okay, you want him to be okay.
3. The language and dialogue are pitch perfect. Both ring true and realistically portray a smart teenager without seeming stuffy or alienating reluctant readers.
4. The humor—it makes this novel fun to read even as it deals with a not so fun subject like depression.
5. It brings to light the overwhelming pressure many teenagers face these days and that is really, really important. With the growing number of AP classes available and encouraged from as early as tenth grade, lots of kids are trying to get their first year of college done by their last year of high school.
And finally, what I love most about this book is…
It offers hope.
Here’s a teenager, dealing with a debilitating depression that is portrayed to the reader as just that—I mean, it’s not packaged in a pretty pink bow, and yet, there is still the sense of hope that things can and will get better. And isn’t that what we want our young readers to ultimately take away from stories—a sense that what they are experiencing, however horrible, is not permanent? That there is a hope for change, for something better, for life to not completely suck? A story like this empowers teens. It let’s them know that life can get hard—incredibly, soul-sucking, can’t eat or sleep kind of hard, but that when it does, there is help. A story like this offers its readers the ability to see beyond the now, towards a future that is better, more fulfilling, even in the face of what others might think and that, that is invaluable—especially in a time when more and more teenagers are dealing with unrelenting bullying and are having difficulty seeing beyond the present.
So, it’s an important read. Go read it. And put it in the hands of teenagers you know.
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