Shusterman, Neal. Challenger Deep, 321pgs. Harper Collins, 2015. $17.99. Language: PG (2 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG ; Violence: PG.
Caden Bosch lives two realities-- one of the daily home/school/friends routine, and the other as a sailor on a pirate ship bound for the Marianas Trench. As Caden grapples with the storm of his brain, readers experience what it is to live with delusion, be admitted to a mental health ward, and face the triumph and despair of trying to cope.
It's a story of mental illness and wellness, inspired by Shusterman's own son. Challenger Deep gives a voice to thousands of people who suffer from mental illness, but receive little awareness and support. Caden’s story is critically important reading—since this book is based in fact, the reader gets a real sense of what it’s like to fear your own mind. It’s tight, compelling storytelling that leaves you with hope. Because of the content in the book, and its format, younger readers may struggle to understand the plot. 8th grade would probably be a good minimum year
I rated the book PG for content—there are subtle allusions to sexual behavior. These examples include a boy drawing a phallus on paper, and a boy and girl spooning in bed. (Nothing sexual comes of it) There are also violent things that happen, but are not described in detail, and they are subtle enough that younger readers will not understand. These examples include an attempt at suicide and battle on a pirate ship.
MS, HS - ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Megan Straw, Language Arts Teacher
FYI - This is Megan's first review for KTB. Her review is a little more objective than her effusive gushing as she was reading the book. She loved that the book forced her to slow down and digest it in small pieces instead of reading at lightning speed as usual. It was so much fun to see her so giddy over this book. Megan is one of the smartest people I know and her knowledge of literature is vast. I am really hoping that I can get her to write more reviews in the future. --Cindy