“There are many ways in which the “check brain” light illuminates, but here’s the screwed-up part: the driver can’t see it. It’s like the light is positioned in the backseat cup holder, beneath an empty can of soda that’s been there for a month. No one sees it but the passengers—and only if they’re really looking for it, or when the light gets so bright and so hot that it melts the can, and sets the whole car on fire.”
Title: Challenger Deep
Author: Neal Shusterman
Why you should read this book: Because it’s important to understand what’s on the other side of mental illness, the side of the person suffering from it.
Summary from Goodreads, I can’t really write summaries lately, I want to write everything and spoil the book:
Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.
Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.
Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence to document the journey with images.
Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.
Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.
Caden Bosch is torn.
“Dead kids are put on pedestals, but mentally ill kids get hidden under the rug.”
I don’t know what to say. This book was special, it felt huge and it made me feel so little inside. Caden’s journey is unique, its his own, it’s the most difficult he has ever been to.
I can’t begin to describe how real it felt, you were there with him, through his struggles with this mental illness that made the world feels fake. He was suspicious of everyone, they were all possible impostors, even his parents. He thought that his actions determined wether a day would be good or bad, wether his sister would be safe or in danger.
“The scariest thing of all is never knowing what you’re suddenly going to believe.”
When he is put in a hospital he finds himself with other boys/girls with problems like his. He meets his room mate, Hal the navigator, obsessed with maps, Skye, a blue haired girl and his never ending puzzle, Callie and her window watching routine, Carlyle, the volunteer who was the head of his therapy group and Dr. Poirot, the one eyed doctor in charge of his weekly evaluations. Every single one of this characters have a major role in Caden’s made up world, they assist him, they take him down, they are part of what he has to do to heal even when he doesn’t know what it is.
It’s not easy to review this book because it’s not a book, it’s so much more. It’s a journey through mental illness not to healing but to cohabiting with it and knowing what to do in order to not make it reach the surface anymore. It is deep in Caden’s brain, it is there, will always be there and there is nothing he can do to take it away. This illness is mean, he is not in control of what he sees, of what he believes, of what’s real and what’s not. It’s something that takes so much out of a fifteen year old boy and you want to help him and you do, with all your might, but in the end he has to do his part, and his part is the most important, without it he is going to go deeper and deeper until a point of no return.
“They want to do something – anything – to help me. Anything to change my situation. But they are as powerless as I am. The two of them are in a lifeboat, together, but so alone. The boat leaks, and they must bail in tandem to keep themselves afloat. It must be exhausting.
The terrible truth of their helplessness is almost too much to bear. I wish I would take them on board, but even if they could reach us, the captain would never allow it.
Right now it sucks to be me – but until now, it never occurred to me that it also sucks to be them.”
Caden is like any of us, he knows what is real but then he doesn’t know anymore, he is torn. It can happen any day, you are “normal” until you are not anymore. The only thing left to do is fight, face the world head high everyday and when we are feeling weak and there is a voice in our head saying “you will come to the depth one day”, you will have to be strong and say “Maybe one day, but not today!”.
Do I recommend it? Yes, it is written in a marvelous way, it hits you hard and it does it in a way that you are not the same when you finish reading it.