By Isabella Biedenharn
November 18, 2015 at 12:00 PM EST

Neal Shusterman has won the 2015 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for his book Challenger Deep, which chronicles a teen boy’s experience with mental illness, based on his son Brendan’s experiences. Shusterman brought Brendan to the stage at the end of his acceptance speech at the National Book Foundation’s ceremony in New York City on Wednesday night.

Challenger Deep has been highly praised for its honest treatment of mental illness. (YA author and editor David Levithan recommended Challenger Deep to everyone at EW Fest. “I started it and I was like, ‘What is going on?'” Levithan said. “That’s usually a sign that I’m liking a book.”)

Dark Water author Laura McNeal presented Shusterman with the award.