Caden has an average teenage life — parents, a sister, friends, sports, school. Though everything appears normal for Caden, behaviors usually dismissed as personality quirks begin to take over his life. He quits the track team to take secret walks for hours, can no longer focus on his daily activities, and is convinced that bad things are about to happen. In his mind, Caden is a crew member serving an unpredictable, vicious captain set to turn Caden into his slave. With each passing day, the line between fantasy and reality is blurred, sending Caden further into his abyss of mental illness.
This book was just wow. I honestly don’t think I’ve read anything like it. Shusterman uses incredible style to illustrate Caden’s mental illness, including symbolism echoed in both Caden’s real life and in the world he believes is real. Though it can be tough to understand at times, this book talks about a very important issue that many would prefer is kept quiet. As Caden says in the book, “Dead kids are put on pedestals; mentally ill kids are swept under the rug”. It’s time to stop ignoring or shaming others because of circumstances beyond their control. The more we talk about this issue, the better it gets. I fully expect Shusterman to win all the awards for this!
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