I admit it – I love teen literature. I read it because I enjoy the stories and the characters, not because it’s part of my job (although it is). Being able to recommend the perfect book to a teen can be the high point of my day.
So, of course, I was excited when the winners of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the American Library Association Teen Media Award winners were announced. These complex and moving stories are as suited for adult reading, as for teens.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman, winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
Challenger Deep is the story of a teenaged boy named Caden Bosch who, in a psychotic episode, finds himself on a ship of very strange characters heading for the deepest part of the ocean. Not able to tell what is real from what is not, or who can be trusted, the main character’s distress and disorientation are obvious. As his reality deteriorates, Caden expresses himself through drawing. Illustrations throughout the novel are by Brendan Shusterman, the author’s son. The novel is based on Brendan’s experience with mental illness and has an immediacy, pathos and sympathy for the sufferer that must be read. I had the pleasure of meeting both Mr. Shusterman and his son at a conference. Here is the title page of my copy of Challenger Deep, signed by the author and decorated by the illustrator.