Shusterman, Neal. Challenger Deep. HarperCollins, 2015.
Caden is in high school and is afflicted with a mental illness that makes him think he is on a ship in the middle of the ocean, traveling toward the Marianas Trench. His parents and teachers are concerned about him and he ends up spending time in a hospital where he is cared for while his medications are adjusted. Caden's struggle to trust his parents and doctors as well as his desire to break free from his illness are evident throughout out both stories.
The chapters in this book alternate between Caden's adventures on the high sea and his real-life adventures as people work to help him control his illness. I will definitely say that this is a powerful book and that it was well-written, but it is definitely not my thing. The ocean adventures seem very random, and it's very difficult to flip back and forth from reality to fantasy. I understand that this was likely the author's intention as it gives a better glimpse into the life of a person struggling with mental illness, but I did not enjoy or appreciate the two separate stories, in spite of their connections. We have a copy in our library's collection, and I will still recommend this book to strong young adult readers or to those interested in mental illnesses, but it's not for me.
Recommended for: young adults
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars
Read-Alikes: The Ruining, Cameron and the Girls, Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets