Author: Martine Leavitt
Published: November 17th, 2015
Rating: 5/5 stars
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.
* Thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for providing an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for a review.
This book was a unique one for me and I’m really hoping that everyone will love it as much as I did. I’ve never read anything featuring a schizophrenic main character or even side character. I also found it interesting because it was written basically as one long letter from Calvin to Bill Watterson, the creator of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, though it didn’t really feel like a letter.
Calvin’s belief in the comics, as well as his condition were what really drove the story, that and the characters. Susie, Calvin’s childhood friend, had drawn away from him in favor of new and more popular friends. But the appearance of Hobbes draws them back together. She goes to see him in the hospital and he reveals his plan to walk across Lake Erie into the United States to prove his devotion to Bill Watterson (wait what?). This will be his cure, not medicine but adventure, which may seem a bit…odd, but you must remember that he is a recently diagnosed schizophrenic. And maybe Susie’s a bit crazy too, because instead of alerting his parents as she originally intended, she ends up joining him in this journey. From there, everything goes sort of crazy (well…more crazy) and the two teens really start really to grow as characters. They meet an amazing group of people while on the lake, made more amazing by the fact that they are on the lake, who really pushed me to think. Though, truthfully, the entire book drove me to think. Take Hobbes for example, though he may be a figment of Calvin’s imagination he still has quite a few amazing things to say…
-Hobbes: Remember what it feels like to wake up on a summer morning and not think about anything except going outside and sitting under a tree? You’ve forgotten. I bet Bill has, too. Instead of a heart you’ll have an iPhone. Instead of a brain you’ll have pings that tell you what has to be done that day and that minute. You’ll never sit in a tree house again, or build a snow fort. You’ll rake and shovel walks, instead. But it doesn’t have to be that way, ol’ buddy…
I don’t know about you guys, but I find that kind of profound, especially for an imaginary tiger. And speaking of imaginary, another reason that I loved this book so much is because I never felt entirely certain whether or not the things that were happening and the characters that were actually real or only real to Calvin. But I didn’t really care if they were real or not in the end, because they were real to Calvin and that ended up being good enough for me.
Who else has read Calvin? What other books have you readwhere the main character is schizophrenic?
-please note that this quotation has not been checked against a final copy of the book.