Friday, December 9, 2016

CALVIN BY MARTINE LEAVITT - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another review, today it is Calvin by Martine Leavitt.


It has been a good long while since I've read a book on mental illness, would it be weird if I said I missed it?

This is the story of Calvin, a recently diagnosed schizophrenic. He has been talking to his friend Hobbes, yes, the tiger from the cartoon strip. After an incident at school lands him in the hospital, Calvin decides to break out, along with the help of his childhood friend Susie. Calvin figures that the only way his life will be set back to "normal" is if he finds Bill Watterson, the creator of the Calvin and Hobbes comic and has him write one last comic, with Calvin by himself without Hobbes. In order to get to Watterson in Cleveland, Calvin and Susie stop by the local hiking store, pick up what they need and set out. On their probably illegal hike across the border, from Leamington, Ontario to Watterson in the US. Oh, did I also mention that it's winter? Or that they are hiking across LAKE ERIE? According to my Google Map skills, it's a 26 hour, 164 km walk that includes (presumably only in the summer) a FERRY ride! Yup.

While their journey takes up most of the story, there are some background details, and the discussions they have along the way give insight into Calvin and Susie's thoughts.

I can't really comment on the realness of Leavitt's depiction of schizophrenia because I don't have much personal experience with it myself, but I feel like she did a good job handling mental illness generally. There is a lot of talk about the acceptance of those with mental illnesses, and she definitely tried to show that people with mental illnesses aren't as scary or dangerous as some may think.

While on the hike, Calvin discovers a lot about himself, and about his life. For a while, he had given up his longtime dream of becoming a neuroscientist. Along the way, he learns that he can still be a great scientist, even with schizophrenia.

I did enjoy a lot of the aspects of this book, I just don't know if it held my attention because it was 181 pages long and I was halfway done by the time I realized, or if it was a good book. There were some good moments, but I found it a little boring at times.

The story itself is written as one long letter to Watterson, and sometimes I felt like I lost that element. It didn't feel as outside of the moment as I think a letter should, and while it's nice to be in the moment with the characters, I think it took away from the letter feel.

Overall, a decent, quirky story but not a favourite.