Calvin – Martine Leavitt

Calvin – Martine LeavittTitle: Calvin by Martine Leavitt
Publishing Info: November 17, 2015 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 4, 2015

As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s 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 had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson.

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CALVIN seemed like a really interesting concept as well as a quick read (the book is under 200 a pages!) and with the end of the year drawing near, it was the perfect time for me to grab a book that would keep me intrigued and help me get that much closer to completing my reading challenge for 2015!

CALVIN is the story of a boy named Calvin who discovers that he has schizophrenia. He believes that if Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson would just write one more comic, he would stop having visions of a real (to him) version of Hobbes and his life could just go back to normal. Calvin then leaves on a quest to go find him by walking across the frozen lake from Canada all the way to the US. As interesting as this concept sounded, the book really fell a bit flat for me. I’ve always been interested in psychology so naturally, books with a psychological aspect of any sort tend to grab me. I started out really interested but the book quickly lost steam for me and despite its short length, I had trouble focusing and staying interested. 

Calvin as a character didn’t really seem to have a lot of depth. I suppose it’s hard to have a well-rounded character when the whole point of the story is a single obsession but I would have loved to see more emotion from him throughout the book! I suppose because I knew Calvin was having schizophrenic episodes, I also found it hard to get a grip on what was real and what was being manifested inside Calvin’s head. Obviously I knew Hobbes wasn’t real but I found myself questioning the entire situation and several characters so just the smallest of doubts really threw off my whole reading experience. That’s also how I am when I read books that I know involve psychological aspects or psychological twists — I’m always looking for a twist, even if it isn’t there, so I actually ended up making this book more complicated than it really was.

I was actually not too impressed with the book overall. It should have been a quick read but I didn’t find the writing terribly engaging and (though possibly due to my own faults), I was kind of let down with the ending. I just didn’t really feel like the book was taking me somewhere and the middle really dragged for me. I kept hoping for something to reel me back it but I never quite made it there. I was also sort of upset that the author didn’t really include any information about schizophrenia and what it is. There were some quick passages where Calvin is trying to explain it to Susie but I just always feel like books dealing with mental illness should educate the reader a little bit since most people don’t know details. I feel like CALVIN missed an easy opportunity to just open that conversation up to the readers.

CALVIN wasn’t a bad read for me but I’d have a hard time recommending it. I can usually zip through a nice, short book and I felt like this book actually dragged a bit. It really didn’t impress me on any level and like I said, not bad but just didn’t really stand out in any way for me.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Calvin // Character Obsessions: Finding Bill Watterson, Hobbes, Susie. 
I felt so disconnected from Calvin and really thought he was lacking the emotion I needed to enjoy his character. I completely understand his obsessions and why he needs to go on his mission but for some reason I just couldn’t connect to him like I wanted to. Hobbes seemed to have more personality, actually.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Quick reads. It was kind of nice that this book was on the shorter side! I always feel more motivated to finish and finish quickly.
Left Me Wanting More: Conversation about mental illness. I’m not usually one to say what “should” or “shouldn’t” be included in a book but I really, really would have liked to see the author touch more on Calvin’s schizophrenia, how it’s handled, what people experience, etc. There was just a bit of talk about it but I had really hoped for more.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

Again, the book wasn’t bad and usually I tell people get a second opinion or try it but I have a hard time recommending this one! I just feel a little let down.

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BELZHAR    LOUD AWAKE AND LOST

2 thoughts on “Calvin – Martine Leavitt

  1. ShootingStarsMag

    Aw, bummer this didn’t really work for you. It does seem odd that the author wouldn’t include more on the mental illness that Calvin has since that’s the whole POINT of the book, right?

    I’m curious – might give it a shot, but we’ll see!

    -Lauren

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