For Craig Gilner, getting accepted into the prestigious Executive Pre-Professional High School in Manhattan isn't what he hoped it would be. Instead,For Craig Gilner, getting accepted into the prestigious Executive Pre-Professional High School in Manhattan isn't what he hoped it would be. Instead, it's too much. It doesn't take too long for Craig to realize that he is far from the best--in fact, he is mediocre. This realization crushes not only his ego; soon, he can't sleep. He can't eat. He is, it turns out, depressed.
A late-night decision to commit suicide results in a call to the nearest suicide hotline--and, eventually, at the hospital down the block, where Craig checks himself into the psychiatric ward. When it turns out that the teen's floor is closed for renovations, he's put on the floor with the adults, where the true adventure begins.
This is the first novel of Ned Vizzini's that I've read, and I enjoyed the ride. The voice is great and memorable, although sometimes childish--but the best part has to be the collection of strange and eclectic characters thrown into the mix. From Craig himself to Noelle, a girl who cut her own face with scissors, to the other patients in the psychiatric ward; I honestly don't think the characters could have been better.
Development was pretty thorough; there were no loops or holes, and the novel was definitely well-written. There was a good balance of comedy and irony and depression, although maybe, when thinking of the novel's topic, it was lacking a serious undertone that stories like this, I feel, have the need for. The main thing I disliked was the flow of the story, and the romance was somewhat awkward and unfinished-feeling. I had brief flashbacks of Suicide Notes and Paper Towns, so pick up Funny Story if you're a fan of either of those.
Unfortunately, the book I picked up before this one was The Perks of Being A Wallflower, so of course Funny Story was a bit of a let-down after that one. The ending wasn't my favorite, some aspects were a bit lacking, but overall Vizzini delivers.
Don't forget to stop by later this month for my interview with Ned Vizzini himself!
Jake Hayes and his family of eight live on a small island off the coast of Washington state, population 5,000. Jake has been in love with the same girJake Hayes and his family of eight live on a small island off the coast of Washington state, population 5,000. Jake has been in love with the same girl for the last four years, but he's never had the guts to tell her. And when he gets into a car accident after a party involving alcohol, he never will. Not when his vocal cords have been ripped out, and he'll never be able to speak again.
Taylor's novel deals with a very serious subject, one that I wasn't expecting to resound with such depth and poignancy. Jake's loss, all because of a stupid decision to get into a car with his drunk friends, is terrifying. He's lost his ability to speak. He'll never be able to tell a girl he loves her. Of course, this is relatable; almost everyone, I'd think, has regrets about things they didn't say but wish they had. But Jake's pain is all-consuming. His frustration and struggles ring true.
Jake is thoroughly developed as a character. He has a strong voice and, through his trials, his character shows three-dimensionality that makes him incredibly real to the reader. Life as he knows it is, essentially, over. His dream of joining the Airforce? Destroyed. His hobby of flying? Gone. His social life? Over. His difficulties are real. They jump off the page. Samantha, the girl Jake loves, is moderately likeable; well-developed but not in the way that Jake is, which is understandable. When it is revealed that Sam is having some problems of her own, though, that pain is there, too.
This story, through and through, is a powerful one.
Keary Taylor definitely achieves what I believe she hoped to--to create a fictional story, a fictional world, that has words of truth. These things happen. There are people like Jake out there. Taylor herself, she reveals in an added author's note, is one of these people. As a high school student, she had gone deaf in one of her ears. Her life changed. She struggled. She overcame.