cover image  It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Ned Vizzini, . . Hyperion/Miramax, $16.95 (444pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-5196-6

It's so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself" is the attention-grabbing first line of Vizzini's (Be More Chill ) highly readable and ultimately upbeat novel. Though Craig was elated when he passed the entry exam for Manhattan's highly competitive Executive Pre-Professional High School, during his first year there he grows increasingly overwhelmed. Matters aren't helped by his new habit of smoking pot and then tormenting himself by hanging out with his best friend, Aaron, and Aaron's girlfriend, Nia, on whom Craig has a longstanding crush. Unable to eat and seriously considering suicide, Craig checks himself into a psychiatric hospital. There, Craig finds his true calling as a visual artist, begins a promising romantic relationship with another patient, helps yet another patient get a place in an adult home, and arranges a thoughtful treat for his reclusive Egyptian roommate—all in a mere five days, a timeframe that readers struggling with their own issues may find somewhat daunting. Still, few would begrudge Craig his exhilarating recovery. The author clearly has not lost his knack for conveying the textures of teenage life. Ages 13-up. (Apr.)