Like most people, I prefer to read a book before I see a film, and so, the bane of my life, is watching a really great film and seeing on the credits ‘Based on the Novel’! No! I would have rather read the book first! I have always found that if you are not familiar with the book, any film could seem good, but the second you compare it to the novel, you are usually disappointed. The only time I have disagreed with this, was The Notebook – but that’s another review for another time.
I watched the film adaptation of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, at the cinema, when it came out in 2010. I loved it. It was a beautiful indie film, full of romance and humour – my favourite. I promised myself I would read the book, but it wasn’t until I recently went on holiday (5 books in 4 days, but who’s countin’?!) that I finally got round to it!
The story follows teenager Craig, through some mental health issues as he is sent to an adults psychiatric hospital. This is the main place in which I saw the most differences between the film and book. The film paints it as ‘Oh, silly kid, look at all these people who have it way worse’, and he starts to get ‘fixed’. The book however, acknowledges that depression isn’t ‘cured’, there are just ways of coping. The flaws in the cast of characters, including Craig himself, give the book a feel of reality and depth, even if some of it is hard to read. Craig meets Noelle in the hospital. A young girl who was subjected to sexual abuse to the extent that she disfigured her own face in order to no longer be ‘attractive’. This is much more heartbreaking in the book, than in the film and it makes it more than just a Boy Meets Girl style story.
The story is relatable (especially for a ridiculous over-worker such as myself) as it all seems to stem from pressure to achieve. In Craig’s case, it is the desire to pass the test to get into a good school, however, when he gets himself into the school, he struggles. He reacts in the way I think we all are familiar with – when things get tough, just give up and hide and all your problems will go away. Sadly, that never works!
One thing I loved about this book, was that his parents were actually really supportive. Too often, the parents are painted as the ‘reason’, however, the fact that his whole family did their best to understand and support him made it all the more heart wrenching to see how it was affecting them all. Had the family been difficult and unkind, you would not have cared about them, however, this way, you began to understand how it can be hard to see someone you love going through something that you just can’t fix. My mum had depression when I was younger, so I really appreciated this layer of the story.
At times I did find different characters hard to keep track of, but that could just be me. A few reviews have said that the book is ‘boring’ and ‘not much happens’, but really, I think it was just not sensationalised, as these stories often are. It was loosely based on Vizzini’s own time spent in an adult physiatric ward, so there was a deep element of truth, which was far more important than a firework story.
I really enjoyed this book, and the way it played with my emotions. It wasn’t a typical young adult book, and I finished it in just a few hours – totally unputdownable.
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