By: Miss Luckow
Craig Gilner is a freshman in high school when he starts to feel like the pressures of the world around him are beginning to suffocate him. After a night of suicidal thoughts, Craig admits himself into an adult mental hospital in order to get the help that he deserves.
In the hospital, he meets a cast of characters ranging from his nearly-silent Egyptian roommate to the mysterious other teen in the ward.
Through each other and through his own art, he begins to understand that getting help takes strength, that he has a gift that others appreciate and who his true friends are.
The author, Ned Vizzini suffered and unfortunately lost his battle to depression shortly after writing this book. It was refreshing to see an author rawly and accurately depict one’s thoughts as they go through depression. Most YA novels tend to romanticize mental illness in a way that furthers the misconception in our society today. This novel, however, did not. I loved the depiction of depression and how Craig’s mind works–it was very accurate.
However, I think I wanted this book to be something more. While, it didn’t romanticize mental illness with its depiction of thoughts, it romanticized it in the storyline. I felt that it ended too neatly with a bow on top. Although, I would love that to be the case in real life, pretty packaging and bows are hard to find. With the majority of the book giving the reader very real emotions, a fake outcome seemed forced. This bothers me.
However, overall, it was a refreshing, relatable read for those who love realistic fiction sprinkled with humanity and humor.