Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Title: Calvin

Author: Martine Leavitt

Published: November 17th, 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars

Goodreads 

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.

Review

* 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.

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The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R Carey

imageTitle: The Girl With All the Gifts

Author: M.R Carey

Published: January 14th, 2014

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Review

*Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the ARC review copy of this book via NetGalley*

I wasn’t expecting to read this book when I started it. Well I planned to read it, I just thought it would be entirely different. A monster in the guise of a little girl perhaps, I imagined that she wouldn’t know she was a monster (or superhuman thingie) but would have an extraordinary level of power that government officials would fear and wish to exploit. It was sort of like that, sort of, but much more powerful than I imagined it would be.

A group of people and one not so human person have to put aside their differences so that they can reach a safe haven. They were a largely diverse group of characters, young and old, dark and pale, crazy and reasonable. I enjoyed reading about all of them, though I think I may have hated Doctor more than I should have. Her character development did nothing to stop me from hating her and I just wanted to hide Melanie, the little girl, behind me and hiss at her aggressively. These were not cardboard characters to say the least, none of them were perfect and none flawed beyond recognition. They each believed in what they were doing, and that made them all the more powerful.

The plot was extraordinarily well paced, it never lost my interest or patience. There was a bit of a metaphor in there somewhere that still hasn’t left me behind, and grossed me out more than it should have. Actually the only thing I didn’t like about this book was the all too present scientific nature of it overall. This mostly bothered me because I didn’t know what all of the words meant, but I think that most people would have less trouble in that aspect than me. It’s a definite must for zombie fans everywhere.

Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips

7657321_orig Title: Crazy

 Author: Linda Vigen Phillips

 Published: October 20, 2014 

 Rating: 4/5 stars

 Goodreads:

Laura is a typical fifteen-year-old growing up in the 1960’s, navigating her way through classes, friendships, and even a new romance. But she’s carrying around a secret: her mother  is suffering from a mental illness.

No one in Laura’s family will talk about her mother’s past hospitalizations or increasingly erratic behavior, and Laura is confused and frightened. She finds some solace in art, but when her mother, also an artist, suffers a breakdown, Laura fears that she will follow in her mother’s footsteps. Left without a refuge, can she find the courage to face what scares her most?

Review:

I am highly greatful that the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program, which provided this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

‘Crazy’ was a very interesting book to read, and that’s not just because it’s written entirely in verse. It follows the life of a girl, just 15, named Laura who has to deal with the overwhelming presence of her mother’s mental illness. She is terrified that she will end up like her, so she drags her own happiness into the dirt to watch herself for symptoms. It is especially difficult for her and her family because they are living in a time when mental illnesses are very poorly understood. It would have been a great story even without the verse which served to make it even better than it may have been and twice as memorable. Not to mention, despite her dealings with her mother’s illness, this book makes it clear that Laura, and others like her, are not so different from everyone else as some books would have us believe. It’s the kind of novel that really not only makes you think, but also feel. Not to mention, the characters are very interesting and their lives and interactions engaged me greatly. This is definitely something worth reading and I recommend it to both lovers of realistic fiction and those who are unsure about the genre!