Remembering Ned Vizzini at Skylight Books

Hey. I didn’t say anything because I have issues with public speaking so I like to put words together first so I know that I have words and I’m not just standing around looking like I’m trying to say something or make a point when I’m just trying to think because communication words don’t come easily to me.

Tonight, some people, especially young adult writers came together to remember Ned Vizzini, the talented young adult author who committed suicide right before Christmas last year.  Some selections from his books were read out loud as well as some personal recollections.  Some really nice things were said.  Ned will be remembered as a caring and intelligent guy.

So here’s what I have to say.  I feel like a bit of a dick because I’ve said unkind things about Ned.  I hope these words never reached Ned because my opinions at the time aren’t some kind of universal truth or an authoritative opinion that means anything.  I’ve recently grown tired with reading other people’s reviews…  a book is a shared experience between the reader and the author, not a threesome between you, the author, and goodreads.

When I first read Be More Chill I was intending that to be a selection for the book club and then I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the most appropriate choice and decided to discuss The Giver instead.  I was feeling sensitive about my selections because my previous choice King Dork was not well received and I thought that I should tailor my choices for my audience.  (Female dominated, fantasy preferred over realistic fiction).


I read House of Secrets.  I didn’t like House of Secrets.  I’m not really the intended audience for House of Secrets; I’m over 30.  I feel like House of Secrets is a fun read, and can easily attract a reluctant reader who doesn’t really care about Jane Eyre.  When I finished House of Secrets I wanted to savage it in a critical review because I apparently assumed that I was the sun and the earth orbited me and that I was enlightening with my radiant wisdom.

God save me, I mean to read the sequel to House of Secrets, Battle of the Beasts.  I’m actually looking forward to it.  Not to snark about it because I feel like I was approaching book one with the wrong perspective.

I read It’s Kind of a Funny Story.   I did so after Ned died because I was hoping to find some answers as to why Ned would commit suicide.  It helped a bit.  Talking with people helped a bit too.  I saw him a few times last year and I had no indication that he was anything other than healthy.  Not that I’m good at empathy or emotional perceptiveness or the diagnosis of clinical depression or suicidal tendencies or some kind of authority on why people do what they do.  This is the book I recommend to people because when he’s being honest…that’s when I get sad because we’ve lost a great writer.

I was going to tell the anecdote about getting House of Secrets signed.  I’ve already posted most of it and I’ve run out of steam.  No more coffee.  Waking up in the morning.  Be nice to people.  Support them.  Make the world a better place.

  1. Vizzini, Ned – Be More Chill.  A young man uses a high tech computer to help him become cooler.
  2. Lowry, Lois – The Giver.  A dystopian future where society suppresses emotions.
  3. Portman, Frank – King Dork.  A coming of age story involving The Catcher in the Rye and a dead father.
  4. Bronte, Charlotte – Jane Eyre.  Jane is an orphan who suffers and finds a better life.  The best part?  People who are not beautiful find real love.
  5. Vizzini, Ned – Battle of the Beasts.  I don’t know what this book is about because I haven’t started it yet but the kids from book one probably have more adventures.
  6. Vizzini, Ned – It’s Kind of a Funny Story.  Guy gets into a prestigious high school, the pressure gets to him and he gets help instead of committing suicide.  Semi-autobiographical.

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