This month’s book club featured a wonderful Zoom discussion about a book called Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. The book is about a teenage boy who begins to exhibit odd behaviors. The story walks the reader through the initial onset of his symptoms, with an emphasis on his thoughts and reactions and the responses of his friends and family. The author jumps between the boy’s real life experience and a story about a pirate and his crew. As the book continues, the reader picks up on the connection between these two narratives and realizes the author’s purpose for writing in this way.
In our group discussion, we all agreed that the book was initially difficult to read because of the jump between the two stories and not knowing how they fit together. However, as we got deeper into the book, it became clear that the author wanted us to also experience the distress and confusion of the main character’s behaviors and thinking. It helped us understand a small piece of what individuals with this type of mental illness (I won’t share more details and risk spoiling part of the book) experience, especially when symptoms are first starting. Many of us discussed our own experiences with mental illness and how we relate to the feelings sparked by the author and the book.
Overall, this was a very uniquely written book that illuminated aspects of mental illness in new ways. It sparked a great discussion about severe mental illness and allowed the reader to grab onto different aspects of the main character’s experience.
Please join us for our next Ramsey County Book Club! Find more information at: https://www.namiramseycounty.org/bookclub.html
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