Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Calvin kind of made me sad, but I enjoyed it and it left me feeling satisfied.

Calvin has been hospitalized after a breakdown at school. He's a senior and has always done well, but has failed to complete two really big assignments. He has also started seeing and hearing Hobbes, a tiger. Calvin has become somewhat obsessed with Calvin & Hobbes, and in particular it's creator, Bill Watterson.

Calvin was born on the day the last Calvin & Hobbes comic was released (unbeknownst to his parents.) Calvin wants Hobbes to go away, but that isn't happening. The doctor thinks Calvin is schizophrenic, but wants to do more tests and put him on some medication. Calvin has sent emails to Bill Watterson asking him to please write one more comic showing Calvin as a 17-year-old, perfectly normal, without Hobbes. Calvin is convinced this will cure him. Calvin has asked Watterson to meet him on a certain day.

Calvin's friend Susie comes to visit. They used to be best friends but have become estranged in the past year. Calvin tells Susie he's going to escape from the hospital and walk across Lake Erie in the middle of the winter to meet Watterson. She tries to talk him out of it, but can't, so she vows to go with him.

During this entire trip, Calvin believes that Susie is also part of his imagination, but hoping that she really is there. Hobbes is also along for the trek. The trip is harrowing, and for me it was nerve-wracking. I kept wanting someone to rescue him (or them?)

Calvin is a very short, quick book but I found it quite riveting. I'm not sure how accurately the mental illness is portrayed, and the whole premise is a bit unbelievable. Their survival also depends on quite a bit of luck. Calvin's musings about life do add something to the story. Calvin will appeal to those who are interested in a survival story that involves a mental illness and a little romance.

Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux BFYR, November 17, 2015
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection Magazine
181 pages

Rating: 3/5

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  1. I read a review of this one in Booklist and thought it was interesting. I don't know how many of my teens would pick it up, but I do find it fascinating.

  2. There are so few books about schizophrenia for teens that I would like to read it to see if my teens would like it Since one of my kids is 16 and still loves Calvin & Hobbes, he might find a connection to the story.

  3. The author writes such griping and poignant stories, I'm sure this one is well done. This is certainly the year of MENTAL ILLNESS in YA lit and there are some good ones to pick from.

  4. I haven't heard of Calvin before now but it sounds very interesting. I think mental illnesses have become a common topic in YA lit lately and I think it's great that it's being discussed, but too few books portray it well in my opinion. I'm curious to see how this one handles it. Lovely review! :)


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