Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He 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, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
I’m going to break my usual way of book reviewing for this book, and if I like it then maybe I’ll keep it. But this book holds a special place in my heart and reading it was almost as though I was looking in the mirror.
I suffer from depression, and I think that it is one of those things that haunt everything that I do and say. I have read many books that contain depression and the characters either get over it in order to do the things that they want or they are miraculously cured at the end. For me this is a massive problem, for me depression is not something you can cure, it is something that you manage and eventually if you manage it well you can lead a pretty standard life. This was one of my main problems with Where She Went by Gayle Forman, her main character was ‘better’ when he had what he wanted. Read my full post here.
This book was completely different, it showed a raw side to depression and what it actually means to be depressed, the pressure you put on yourself to make yourself better. I have read some of the reviews on Goodreads and I find myself disagreeing with some of the negative ones, especially about the sex and the ending, I think that the way that I can describe it is the fact that he goes through ‘shifts’ and I think that this is one of them, and the book ends without us knowing whether or not it stuck, so when people says he’s magically cured, he might not be, it could just be another ‘shift’.
The characters themselves are amazingly well done, and I don’t know whether Vizzini intended for them to come across this way but it felt as though those who were not really his friends, felt like cardboard cutouts whereas the variety of people in the mental ward with him were fleshed out and really superbly written. The sex didn’t bother me, for me it was a young boy looking to divert his attention away from his depression and fall madly in love.
All in all this book really surprised me, it had be laughing and the end had me almost in tears, I could relate to almost everything that was going on in Craig’s head and the way that he was dealing with everything. It was a triumph, hence the 5 stars.
I just want to end this post by expressing my deepest sadness at the fact Ned Vizzini lost his fight against depression and ended his own life. I hope he has finally found the peace he was after.