I spent the afternoon lost in Ned Vizzini’s Teen Angst? Naah…, a collection of short essays about his experiences as a teenager. It’s candid, thoughtful, and entertaining.

Ned Vizzini also wrote It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, a book based on his week-long stay in a mental hospital that changed his life. The book itself went on to change so many other lives.

He killed himself last winter.

I don’t know why.

This book affected me more than most books I’ve read. I’m not sure why. The last chapter is a note from Ned about what happened to him after high school. He sounded like he was doing so well. He was doing so well. And now he’s gone.

Maybe I feel this way because, in a strange way, he reminded me of me. He went to a magnet high school, was rather socially awkward, etc. But I feel like anyone could relate to his experiences. Teen Angst? makes Ned Vizzini feel like a real person. It reads as if he’s hanging out in your dorm room and sharing stories about high school.

I wish I could have got to know him. I feel like I missed out on an opportunity to make a new friend, even though I doubt I ever would have met him. He seems like a great person.

I wish I knew why, but it doesn’t really matter. It happened, and now it’s over.

I miss him. And I don’t know why, but I wish he were here.

The book ends kind of like this:

I’m a writer from now on, for better or worse, and so far it’s mostly all better…Do I have days where I wake up and no Muses are there and I don’t even want to deal with my life anymore? Sure…But above and beyond that are the days when the words come together and I sit back in my chair and go, “Man, this is fun.” And there are the days where I get an e-mail or a letter from someone who read my writing and liked it and I just slap myself in the head for an entirely different reason, because I’m blessed.

I wish I had written you a letter, Ned.