Thursday, November 10, 2016

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman is the story of a high school boy's descent in mental illness.  It's an intricate dance of real life events, dream events, and the mingling of the two as our unreliable narrator focuses in and out of delusions and reality. 

I found it complex and intriguing, but I wonder a lot if your average high school student will understand the grand metaphors and symbols.  I'm pretty sure most of it would have sailed right over my head when I was sixteen and that I would have said the book was junk.

Shusterman's son has mental illness and actually illustrated the book. My guess is that it's an accurate reflection of certain types of mental illness and I can actually see how it would make you unable to focus because this book nearly broke me. I would actually sigh in relief when the narrator would have a lucid moment, but that actually made the whole thing more powerful to me because it gave me a small glimpse into how hard life is for those whose brains are wired differently than mine is.

It wasn't an easy read, but I think I'll recommend it to the empathetic people in my life.  I think we need more empathy right now and I can't help but wonder how people Caden Bosch will be helped in the next four years and hope against hope that it will be with respect and kindness. 

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