The following questions invite you to consider the major themes, issues, and conflicts raised byIt’s Kind of a Funny Story. They also encourage you to think about your own experiences—including your reactions to the story—in relation to the novel.
- At the beginning of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, how does Craig seem to define success? How does that definition change over the course of Craig’s experiences? What factors seem to contribute to these definitions and the changes? How do Craig’s views of success match the American Dream?
- What does It’s Kind of a Funny Story suggest about academic and social pressures and how people react to it? What does the book seem to say about societal expectations about school and academic performance? Does the novel’s message match your own experience with academic and social expectations and pressure?
- When do you think Craig’s depression started? Are there any clues from his childhood that suggest he might have had a predisposition for depression or anxiety? How do his thoughts contribute to his depression and anxiety? What might the military voice in his head represent? And why doesn’t Craig mention it to anyone—including his therapists?
- What does It’s Kind of a Funny Story say about mental illnesses, and how people react to someone with a mental illness?
- How does the description of Craig’s depression match the clinical description of depression? What kinds of treatment or options does he explore? Is there anything else he could have done? You may wish to look at the National Institute of Mental Health’s website on depression for more information:http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/complete-index.shtml
- Craig coins his own terms to help him describe his depression and anxiety. In particular, he uses the term “anchors” for “things that occupy [his] mind and make [him] feel good temporarily” and “tentacles” for “evil tasks that invade [his] life.” How do these terms describe his experience? Are these terms relevant for us as well?
- During his time on Six North, Craig rediscovers an early love for drawing maps, and begins drawing what he calls “brain maps,” which illustrate his views of how brains might work. How do his brain maps capture Craig’s experiences with the other residents of Six North? Are maps useful models for explaining the human mind? If you were to draw a brain map of yourself or someone you know, what would it look like?
- Some of the settings in the novel are particularly detailed, such as Aaron’s room, Brooklyn, and particularly, Sixth North. How do these settings contribute to a theme, characterization, or a conflict in the novel?
- It’s Kind of a Funny Story explores friendships and related concerns. How would you describe Craig and Aaron’s relationship? What concerns does Craig seem to have about Aaron? Are they true friends?
- Craig has two romantic interests in It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Compare Nia and Noelle, and Craig’s reasons for being interested in each of them. Based on what you learn about these characters, are either of these two young women good matches for Craig? Why or why not?
- Is the ending of It’s Kind of a Funny Story a happy one? Has Craig changed? If so, in what ways? Is Craig’s depression cured? What do you think might happen to him after the story ends?