Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman is a young adult novel about a teenager who has an undefined mental illness (possibly a combination of illnesses). After his grades drop and he becomes paranoid, telling his father he thinks someone at school wants to kill him and then he acts strangely at school, as well, Caden is eventually hospitalized in a mental ward. There he meets other teenagers who have similar issues, sees a counselor and a psychiatrist, has his medications adjusted and readjusted, and learns to deal with an illness that can only be controlled, at best. 

While Challenger Deep is a young adult book it's not an easy read, emotionally speaking, since you're in the mind of a teenager who's had a break from reality. Sometimes he's hallucinating but the sights and voices are very real to him. 

I can see why this book is an award winner. After reading, I feel like I "get" what it must be like to experience both the illness and the fogginess that goes with having to take a cocktail of drugs to control it. It's clear why people dealing with severe mental illness have a problem with occasionally being non-compliant about taking their medication. 

Highly recommended - I had tears of relief streaming down my face when the main character, Caden, was finally able to leave the mental ward. A beautifully-written, engaging, distressing, fascinating book about what it's like to lose touch with reality and how it feels to be treated so you can get back to at least a tolerable life, if not a totally normal one. 

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  1. I really liked this one. It was moving and helped me understand (I think) what it must be like to live with an illness like that. Especially how overwhelming his inner world was.

    1. I totally agree. It was very effective showing the mental illness through the eyes of the main character. I came away feeling like I understood something I'd only vaguely-maybe-kinda thought I understood, in the past.


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