Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Unique Calvin Stands Out in the Contemporary YA Crowd—In A Very Good Way

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Now I was seventeen and a tiger was talking to me and I wasn't scared of the monsters under the bed.  I was scared of the monster in the bed, which was me" (13).  

It's not like it's an overly common name, Calvin.  So, it can't be a coincidence, can it, that Calvin has always felt connected to the old comic, Calvin and Hobbes?  After all, he was born on the day Bill Watterson published the last strip, his favorite toy used to be a stuffed Hobbes (until his mom washed it to death), and his best friend (okay, his only friend) is a girl named Susie.  Creepiest of all is that Hobbes has returned, only now he's a walking, talking, full-blown delusion that Calvin can't shake no matter how hard he tries.  Calvin realizes it's not normal for a 17-year-old boy to have an imaginary friend.  'Course, schizophrenia isn't exactly commonplace among his high school peers, either.  Question is, how is he supposed to deal with a mental illness as terrifying as the one that's taking over his mind?

First things first: Calvin has to ditch the delusive cat.  As far as he can see, there's only one way to do that.  If he can convince Bill Watterson to write one more Calvin and Hobbes story—this one sans Hobbes—the imaginary feline will disappear from existence.  Writing to the comic's creator hasn't worked, so Calvin's taking his plea to Watterson's front door.  It will mean tramping across frozen Lake Erie with a girl who may or may not be real, but Calvin is determined to stop a figment of his imagination from taking over his life.

Can his foolhardy plan really work?  Can he accomplish something so daunting, especially when he's not sure if the trek is happening for real or just inside his muddled brain?  In his desperation to find a cure for his schizophrenia, has Calvin doomed not just himself but his only friend as well?

True originality is not a quality often found in contemporary YA literature.  That's one of the reasons Calvin by Martine Leavitt is such a gem.  With a unique premise, an otherworldly setting, and an intriguing blend of adventure, humor, and psychological thriller, it's definitely different from the norm.  Which is a good thing.  A very, very good thing.  At less than 200 pages, it's a quick read but a surprisingly complex one.  Both tender and touching, Calvin is appealing, absorbing, and absolutely unforgettable.  Destined to be a sleeper hit, this is one contemporary YA novel you don't want to miss.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for scenes of peril and vague references to sex

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. Oh, oh, I totally must read this. I'm on a YA binge and can't get enough, and your review has made me hungry for more of Calvin. Cheers and have a great week.

  2. Wow! Adding this one to the tbr. And I'm not even going to feel guilty because it's so short. Thanks for the review. I might never have heard of this one without it.


Comments make me feel special, so go crazy! Just keep it clean and civil. Feel free to speak your mind (I always do), but be aware that I will delete any offensive comments.

P.S.: Don't panic if your comment doesn't show up right away. I have to approve each one before it posts to prevent spam. It's annoying, but it works!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin