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“CALVIN,” by Martine Leavitt, Farrar Straus Giroux, $17.99, 181 pages (f) (ages 14 and up)
Calvin has never been popular and has always felt like an outsider at school. But when Hobbes, a character from a comic strip, starts having conversations with him, he knows something weird is going on, in the novel “Calvin.” After an episode at school, Calvin is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Now he’s the unpopular kid with a disorder.
Calvin is convinced he will be cured of schizophrenia if he hikes across frozen Lake Erie and meets Bill Watterson, the author of the famous comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes.” But plans change when his best friend, Susie, insists on tagging along, much to his outward dismay but secret joy.
As Calvin and Susie trek along the top of the frozen lake from Canada into the United States, they talk about everything from the existence of God to the inner workings of the human brain. Friends since childhood, the two have grown apart as Susie has gotten popular and Calvin has grown weirder. But this time spent together rekindles their friendship and more.
Martine Leavitt makes schizophrenia incredibly realistic as the story is told from the first-person perspective as a letter from Calvin to Watterson. It’s easy to empathize with Calvin and his struggles to maintain a grasp on reality, while at the same time cheering for his tenacity and bravery. While the book’s middle drags a bit, the beginning and ending more than make up for any deficiencies. Susie and Calvin are wonderfully depicted, and reading about their romance is delightful.
“Calvin” has no profanities and a few brief episodes of bullying. The romance is limited to kissing, and the characters live morally.
Leavitt is an award-winning author who lives in Canada with her husband.
“Calvin” is one of five finalists in the general young adult fiction category of the Whitney Awards. The awards recognize novels by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elizabeth Reid has bachelor’s degrees in economics and history. She has worked in retail, medical billing, catering, education and business fields. Her favorite occupation is that of wife and mother. She blogs at agoodreid.blogspot.com.
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