Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Neal Shusterman
Illustrator: Brendan Shusterman
Publisher: Harper Teen
Caden Bosch is a bright high school sophomore who struggles to keep his head above water in a sea of mental illness. His friends start noticing his unusual behavior and keep their distance. Caden’s parents are concerned by his verbal outbursts of paranoia. The voices in Caden’s head and his strange dreams keep him from acting like a typical teenage boy, so his parents eventually admit him to Seaview Memorial Hospital. During his time at Seaview, Caden learns more about himself and how to live with mental illness.
Neal Shusterman does an excellent job exploring the complexity of mental illness. The plot constantly jumps from Caden’s imagined reality of disturbing thoughts and dreams of sailing on a ship bound for the deepest part of the Marianas Trench to his real life and interactions with others. The novel is full of metaphors, blending Caden’s imagined reality to actual reality. People in Caden’s life often end up in his dreams and morph into characters on the ship, taking the journey into the deep with him. Neal Shusterman does a great job leading the reader on a journey of understanding and hope. At the end of the novel are helpful resources for those would like more information about mental health.