I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Calvin by Martine Leavitt
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on November 17th, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
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In this latest novel from National Book Award finalist Martine Leavitt, a schizophrenic teen believes that Bill Watterson can save him from his illness if he creates one more Calvin & Hobbes comic strip.
Seventeen-year-old Calvin has always known his fate is linked to the comic book character from Calvin & Hobbes. He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even has a best friend named Susie. As a child Calvin played with the toy Hobbes, controlling his every word and action, until Hobbes was washed to death. But now Calvin is a teenager who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Hobbes is back—as a delusion—and Calvin can't control him. Calvin decides that if he can convince Bill Watterson to draw one final comic strip, showing a normal teenaged Calvin, he will be cured. Calvin and Susie (and Hobbes) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track him down.
This book, though short packs quite a punch. It’s fun and quirky, but also serious as well. It follows Calvin who has schizophrenia on an extremely dangerous adventure. I enjoy reading books about mental illness when they are told in the POV of the person who has it. It is a scary and sad thing to know what they are going through, but my curious mind is always interested. I work in a field that deals with mental illness, so I am no stranger to it, but I am fascinated with how the brain works and I really do love books like this.
Calvin was a really great character in so many ways. He is smart, funny, and determined. Yes, he may have schizophrenia, but that is just one part of him. For most of the book it is a battle for him, but he does well at not letting it control him most of the time. He needs help, but he has his mind set that he doesn’t need doctors and medication. He just needs Bill Watterson to change the course of his life by writing one more comic strip. The coincidences of his life do make it seem like he is the real life Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. Though when Hobbes appears and has a mind of his own, that is a pretty scary thing for Calvin. He knows that it can’t be real, but he’s there so it’s hard to ignore. Along with that, he is totally in love with Susie, who has barely spoken to him at all since she got beautiful and popular. That is until she decides to go with him on his dangerous mission.
I loved Susie. She is level headed, but still goes along with Calvin on what seems like a death adventure. No way will they survive walking over a frozen lake to get to Bill Watterson, but she can’t let him go alone. She also keeps him in check by reminding him when things aren’t real, and reassuring him when they are. And out on that lake and some of the weird things and people they come across, he really needs that reassurance. Susie is a good friend despite not really being around much lately. And she obviously cares about Calvin enough to do this with him.
I really loved this book. Hobbes was quite the character and I really enjoyed the banter between Calvin and him. Susie was such an awesome person and she just went along with it like it was a normal thing. There was a lot of humor in this book with the people they meet and just random things along their journey. There was also a lot of heart warming moments between Calvin and Susie too. I enjoyed those the most. So yeah, there was a bit of romance in it, but it was totally natural and made sense. Calvin and Susie have a history that was just pushed to the side for a little bit. As fun as this book was to read, the seriousness didn’t escape my notice. Not only with the mental illness, but with them out on an adventure that is almost sure to kill them. This was a well written book that covers a serious topic in an interesting and enjoyable way.
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I’m loving all the books dealing with mental illness, these days. I didn’t know about this one until this morning, but I have added it to my TBR. Great review!
Ksenia @ Ksenia's Book Blog
There are quite a few books about mental illness lately. It’s great that authors bring attention to this important topic. It looks like this book manages to deliver this serious topic in a light and enjoyable way. Great review, Amy!