CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman plunges readers into the powerful and authentic world of mental illness through the perspective of a teen teetering on the brink of insanity.
Unlike works for young adults that view mental disorders from the outside in, Shusterman immerses readers into this disturbing universe from the very first page. Sensitively told through short chapters that flow between Caden’s imaginary world and his perceived reality, readers experience a young man’s ongoing struggle with sanity. This gripping prose will hold the attention of young adults from beginning to end as they grow to understand the stark reality of Caden’s condition.
The book is illustrated with amazing artwork by Shusterman’s son Brendan. The “author’s note” at the end of the novel explains the author’s close ties to this very personal story.
While some readers will empathize with Caden’s plight because of their own experiences with mental illness, others will gain new insights and compassion for those dealing with schizophrenia and similar disorders.
Librarians will find this to be an excellent selection for students interested in the psychology of mental illness. Young adults will appreciate the authentic characters and the author’s eye for detail.
This extraordinary work of realistic fiction has had lots of positive buzz. It’s likely to be on the “best of 2015” lists, so be ready for ongoing interest in the title.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.storyman.com/.
Published by Harper Teen on April 21, 2015.