“Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy.
At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn’t brilliant compared to the other kids; he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.”
This book has been on my bookshelf for a while now, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.
I am going to point out that in the description above (which is also on the back of the book), where it says ‘he nearly kills himself’, it’s not like, explicit and going through an actual suicide attempt so much. Craig decides that things are never gonna get better, and suicide is his only option. He thinks through what he’s going to do. But then instead of leaving the house to go through with it, he calls a suicide hotline, and check himself into hospital.
And maybe there are a couple of triggers for people who’ve gone through similar things when they read this, so please be aware of that.
Personally, I thought that Vizzini does a great job of showing how depression can be and how Craig tries to deal with it. Craig’s family are supportive, he’s on medication and seeing shrinks, but things start to go downhill – and then he checks into the hospital.
And he gets better. Not cured, but better. This isn’t one of those stories that ends with a grave. I just wanted to point that out.
I did feel a little overwhelmed a couple of times when I was reading it, but not in a bad way. More in a I-don’t-wanna-put-this-down way. It was very heartwarming, and I found Craig’s tale gripping.
Like, yeah, he’s got depression. But he’s still a hormonal teenage guy and Vizzini really shows how depression doesn’t dehumanise him. Craig’s narration is, at times, witty, and he’s a really endearing character as he battles his depression and does his damn best to get better.
And, then you have the characters in the psych hospital with Craig. I really loved Craig’s roommate while he was at the hospital – their relationship was really great. And Ebony, one of the other patients, was fantastic.
Like I said, there may be a couple of trigger warnings with this book for some people, but I didn’t come across anything that seemed like a major one. And this is one I’d definitely recommend – but it’s certainly not as lighthearted as some of the other books I’ve reviewed so far. That said, it’s – well, it’s kind of a funny story.