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Challenger Deep
by Neal Shusterman

Published: 2015-04-21
Hardcover : 320 pages
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National Book Award Winner

A captivating novel about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: ...

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Introduction

National Book Award Winner

A captivating novel about mental illness that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman.

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.

Challenger Deep is a deeply powerful and personal novel from one of today's most admired writers for teens. Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak, calls Challenger Deep "a brilliant journey across the dark sea of the mind; frightening, sensitive, and powerful. Simply extraordinary."

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. Describe Caden's relationship with the captain and the parrot. Are the captain and parrot allies? Why or why not? What fears does the captain have about the crew members? How does he elicit Caden's assistance?

2. Note the times when the story slipped into second-person narration, and when it came back to first person. Why do you think the author did that?

3. Discuss the changes that Caden's family and friends notice in his behavior. What steps do they take to try helping him? In what ways do school officials try to help him?

4. What parallels can you draw between Caden's visions about the ship and the captain and Caden's life? For example, what role does Caden's lack of preparation for a science test play in the vision in which he is branded? Identify and discuss the meanings of other parallels.

5. How does Caden feel about being in the psychiatric hospital? Describe his time there. Does group therapy work for him? Why or why not? In what way does Caden feel betrayed while in the hospital? Trace the development of one central idea in Caden's real world and the world in his mind.

6. The story has a number of pivotal characters. Who is the parrot and what role does he play? Does the parrot have control over Caden? Why or why not? What does his death symbolize in the story? Hal is another key character in the story. What happens to Hal and how does his character move the story forward?

7. Compare and contrast Calliope and Callie. Discuss the ways in which they are connected in the story. In what ways do they provide "safe" places for Caden? How would the story be different if Caden's experiences were told through either Calliope's or Callie's eyes?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Neal Shusterman says "CHALLENGER DEEP explores the depths of mental illness through fantasy blended with reality. It was inspired by my son, Brendan's, battle with schizophrenia, and the artwork he created in the depths of his worst episode. For that reason, it is my most personal, most heartfelt work - the book that all the others were preparing me to write.

I am thrilled that it won the 2015 National Book Award -- but more important than any award, are the countless people that this book is reaching. I'm sure you know someone who is struggling with mental illness - either themselves or a loved one. This is a book to help lift the stigma, and give people a sense of comfort in knowing they are not alone. For that reason, CHALLENGER DEEP is a book that needs to put in as many hands as possible."

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by phoebe.terry (see profile) 10/19/16

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