Ned Vizzini, the talented young author of Be More Chill (the first YA novel selected as a Today show book club pick), crafts another superb study of angst-ridden adolescence in this story of teen depression. Craig Gilner is a gifted 15-year-old boy who works hard to get into a fiercely competitive high school, then crumbles under the intense academic pressure. Blindsided by his inability to excel and terrified by thoughts of suicide, Craig checks into a psychiatric hospital where he finally gets the help he needs. Vizzini, who himself spent a brief time in psychiatric "stir," invests his novel with great emotional honesty. A graceful, skillful, and witty handling of a sensitive issue, this is an important book we heartily recommend for older teens.
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.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Craig finds it hard to smile because he wants to kill himself. Suddenly, after working so hard to get accepted into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School, Craig Gilner realizes that he is just "average." He spent so long studying for the entrance exams that he forgot what it was like before and gradually his control begins to fall away. His deliberate downward spiral leads him to therapist after therapist as he sinks deeper into depression. One night he finds himself contemplating suicide. Like any intelligent teenager, he calls the suicide hotline and is directed to walk himself down to the hospital. Thus begins Craig's week long stint in the adult psychiatric ward filled with healing, despair, and self-evaluation, while allowing for comical characters and the lighter side of dealing with the ever-growing issue of adolescent depression. Ned Vizzini's newest novel is peppered with drinking, drugs, and sex, as well as familiar subjects that today's teens are faced with on a regular basis. 2006, Miramax books/Hyperion, Ages 13 up.
Craig Gilner obsessively pursues his dream of being accepted into a top-quality high school. Craig's dream, however, turns into a nightmare. At his new school, Craig is no longer extraordinary. He is one of many brilliant students, and soon his perfect world crumbles. Craig lapses into depression and spends more time smoking marijuana at his friend Aaron's house. Unable to eat or even do simple tasks, Craig begins seeing therapists and taking medication. His depression worsens when he stops taking his medication, and Craig must check himself into a hospital after having suicidal thoughts. During his short stay, Craig gains a better understanding of himself and forms strong bonds of friendship with the other psychiatric patients. The author spent time in a psychiatric hospital, and so Craig's first-person account of his thoughts and feelings is poignant and authentic. This reviewer was disappointed, however, with the fairy-tale ending. Craig not only decides on a major change in his life, he also becomes romantically involved with a patient his own age, Noelle. It is questionable whether Craig and Noelle's passionate scene on the night before Craig is discharged needs to be described in more than four pages of detail. Of course, Noelle is also being discharged the next day, and Craig has her phone number tucked away in his pocket as he leaves. Despite the ending, this book will be a solid purchase for libraries looking for fiction that deals with teen depression and school pressure. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Hyperion, 448p., Ages 12 to 18.
Gr 9 Up-When 15-year-old Craig Gilner is accepted by a prestigious Manhattan high school, the pressure becomes taxing, and he finds himself battling depression. Partying and drugs don't help. As his illness intensifies, he is aided by his supportive family and perceptive therapist. A prescription for Zoloft improves things, until Craig decides that he is better and stops taking it. In a revitalized state of depression, he calls a suicide-prevention hotline and then checks into a hospital, where the only space available is in the adult psychiatric wing. There, he receives the help he needs, discovers his hidden artistic talents, and connects with the quirky patients who have plenty of problems of their own, including Noelle, a girl his own age. Craig's well-paced narrative, carefully and insightfully detailing his confusing slide and his desperate efforts to get well, is filled with humor and pathos. His thoughts reveal a sensitive teen unsure about sex, friendships, himself, and his future. An almost unbelievable amount of self-realization, including his first two romantic encounters, occurs in the whirlwind five-day hospital stay. However, the book ends on a note of hope, despite Craig's unwise anticipation of a relationship with Noelle. This novel will appeal to readers drawn to Brent Runyon's The Burn Journals (Knopf, 2004), which is another powerful but more extreme look at a likable teen returning from the brink of suicide.-Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Craig Gilner, a high-school student in New York City, can't deal with his grades, keep food in his stomach or prevent himself from feeling disconnected from his friends and family. Finally, the urge to kill himself eats into his psyche, and he calls a suicide hotline that quickly recommends that he contact a nearby psychiatric hospital. Craig follows orders, checks himself in and thus begins a humorously poignant journey to recovery, love and self-worth. Vizzini's witty, self-deprecating sense of humor keeps this winding yet entertaining novel about recovery and understanding afloat. Though told in all sincerity-an afterward states Vizzini himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital in 2004-too often Vizzini idles too deeply in Craig's meandering psyche, especially in his intense reflections on minor characters. While these thoughts are truthful, it does not make them interesting. What results is a slow start to an easy, occasionally long-winded novel about a troubled boy's rise from depression to recognition and acceptance for who he is. For the readers who stick with him until the end, the results will resonate with them just as loudly as Craig's newfound credo: to live for real. (Fiction. YA)
"This book offers hope in a package that [listeners] will find enticing, and that's the gift it offers." Booklist Starred Review