Against all odds. Young Readers' Edition by Craig Challen and Richard Harris

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When a Thai boys’ soccer team becomes trapped within a cave system by rising waters, the Thai rescue needs experienced cave divers to facilitate their rescue. Experienced Australian Cave divers, Craig Challen and Richard Harris, become part of the team that works against the odds and the elements to bring the boys out alive.This is their story. Craig Challen is a retired Veterinarian from Western Australia, Richard Harris is an Anaesthetist in a South Australian Hospital, and they both are well-respected and experienced members of the Cave-diving fraternity. It is their medical expertise that makes them so vital in this risky rescue as the boys must be protected from panic and drowning as they are extracted through narrow underwater channels and through difficult underground terrain. At every stage of the rescue they must also consider what might happen if even one of the boys dies during their rescue procedure.

Even knowing the result was a success, the chronicle of the rescue is exciting and adrenaline charged. The Australian lead participants in the rescue were just part of a team and their humility is evident in this account. But the pressure of taking a medical risk in anaesthetising the boys before taking them out of the cave system is also made very plain. I really loved this real-life adventure. Having just finished listening to the Adult/Mature audiobook version of this book, I read this Young Reader’s edition wondering what might have been omitted. I was delighted to discover that the Young Reader’s edition has lost none of the excitement and tension of the original book and none of the important detail. It retains the tension and implies the psychological strength of the rescued boys and their rescuers.  I would be happy to recommend this memoir to readers aged 13 -18 who are impressed by the drama of cave exploration and are interested in a factual account of a significant rescue story.

Themes: Cave diving, Adventure, Rescues, Resilience, Thailand, Memoir.

Carolyn Hull