2015 by HarperTeen
ISBN – 9780061134111
Genre – Realistic Fiction? Fantasy? Mental Illness
Age – High School
Caden is a high school student. He is quite a good student. His friends and family start to notice changes in him though. He seems to space out more, his emotions aren’t like they used to be, and he seems to lack interest in the things he previously enjoyed. He is sinking more and more into his own mind, in which another story is unraveling. He is on a ship that is heading to the Marinas Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. He is the artist on the ship. But things aren’t always as they seem and he must be careful about who he trusts.
This one took some time to get into, to understand what was happening. It was so involved in a world that I couldn’t possibly understand. Then, all of a sudden I could. This book is a deeply personal account of living with mental illness. It is full of brilliant drawings done by Shusterman’s son, who suffers from schizophrenia. Caden seemingly moves back and forth between his two different realities. I liked that although the story of him on the ship seems to be so fantastical, it has so many parallels to what was happening in real life. The choices he had to make were so similar. On the ship he had to choose if he believed what the captain was telling him, or if he wanted to go rogue. This was also a choice he had to make in his real life. Would he be able to have faith in those who supported him, or would he sink deeper into his own delusions and paranoia? Maybe I’m not spot on, but I think this one may be hard to ever completely understand without being in Caden’s shoes. Maybe not even then. It made me think, and feel, and all the good stuff a book should do. Go Shusterman, and congratulations on the award!