Thursday, November 12, 2015

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Caden believes that someone at school is planning to kill him because the other student looked at him in the hallway.  He also experiences life on board the Challenger Deep, a ship preparing to explore the ocean's deepest trench.  On the ship he interacts with the unusual captain, his wise-cracking parrot and the ship's masthead.  Caden's fantasies are slowly taking over his real life as his schizophrenia progresses.  Eventually, his parents have no choice but to put Caden into a facility where he can get the help he needs to deal with his illness.

This book has been short-listed for the National Book Award.  I am a huge fan of Shusterman however I struggled with this book.  It is very good and undoubtedly an accurate portrayal of schizophrenia since Shusterman's son is the co-author and inspiration for the book.  It is this very accuracy that made it so difficult for me to read, particular the chapters on the Challenger Deep which are extremely difficult to decipher.  As the book progressed I began to see the real life events reflected on the ship which  might've actually made it more difficult for me because then I was trying to reconcile the two worlds.  Considering how difficult it was for me to make sense of things while reading, I can only imagine how difficult it is to actually be living that life.  Which is probably the point of the book and what makes it an important, excellent story.