DSCF3986                   I was sitting down with chips and raspberry salsa yesterday, enjoying my first day of winter break, when my friend called me to say something very confusing.

                “Ned Vizzini died.”

                There’s really no moment in which it makes sense to hear something like that. And as we both looked around on the news sites and received the sickening news that Ned Vizzini not only died, but committed suicide, neither of us was really sure what to say or how to process the information.

                I’ve never met Ned Vizzini, and I probably couldn’t even identify him in a photo. And yet, knowingly or unknowingly, he has been in my life in a very real way. I own and loved his books Teen Angst? Naaah and Be More Chillthe former of which he published when he was only nineteen, how’s that for an inspiration? Ned’s writing style is so genuine and honest, and his stories have a way of sticking in your memory in subtle ways. No other writer is quite like him, and his fans could probably pick out his work even without his name attached to it.

                And then, of course, there’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. It’s impossible to read this book and not connect with it and be changed by it. So many people have, and I know that it has meant the world to countless readers, young and old, in this country and beyond. Even more people were reached and moved by the movie based on the novel. It’s Kind of a Funny Story has a special way of giving hope. It is truly a gift to us all.

                His existence has been a quiet presence for me at all times, one of those names that make you perk up and pay attention when you hear it, like an old, well-established friend. Glancing up at his books on my shelf when I’m running around my house always makes me just a little more content, a little more secure.

                I don’t know why Ned Vizzini chose what he did; but his loss is a true tragedy for the genre of young adult fiction. To all those who knew and loved him, you’re in our thoughts, and may you find peace and comfort somehow. And know that Ned will not be forgotten, either by the countless readers and moviegoers who have already benefited from his gift, or by the generations still to come who will discover him anew.