Thursday, June 4, 2015

Challenger Deep

By: Neal Shusterman
Location: FIC SCH
Genre: Young Adult Mental Health

 "Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug." 

I have watched a teenager that I know and love battle with the forces of mental illness. I have watched her succumb to her inner demons and then rise to try and fight them again. I have restrained her, held her, watched over her as she decides if her life is worth living, I have sat in a padded room with her and stroked her wrists as they lie carved up, tied to a bed.
Youth mental illness is no joke and neither is this book!

Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak, calls Challenger Deep "a brilliant journey across the dark sea of the mind; frightening, sensitive, and powerful. Simply extraordinary."

 Challenger Deep does for Mental Illness what Fault in our Stars does for Cancer. They shed an almost positive and hopeful light on their respective subjects. They challenge us to think deeper and see wider. Books that give me fresh and hopeful perspectives on darker subjects are always my favorites, and Challenger Deep is exactly that. 

Caden was a clever kid. He was a funny kid. He was relatively popular, talented, and moderately successful kid. Whether he was a superstar or a problem child, watching him sink would have been sad. The thing is that mental illness doesn’t pick and choose, though. It affects everyone and that’s why I think it was a good idea to write this journey about a kid that nobody expected to slide into psychosis.

Shusterman has always had a way of writing his characters and their worlds in a unique way, and this was no exception. At first the Captain and his pirate ship read as a completely different story from the one taking place in the real world. The real world was one of delusion, medication, anxiety and distrust. I admittedly preferred reading the story of Caden’s illness and the reactions of the people around him, rather than read more about his made up world. However, as the book went on, and the two worlds began to overlap and come together, the more I became invested in learning the purpose for Caden’s brain to have created the ship. The more I understood, the more I wanted him to succeed. The question became HOW would he succeed. Would the end come through the Parrot or the Captain? -Wendy F-

This  captivating story about mental illness lingers long beyond the last page, and  the novel features haunting interior illustrations by Neal Shusterman's son Brendan.

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