Review: ‘Calvin’ by Martine Leavitt

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve started to binge read books in the “teens with mental health issues” genre. Calvin is the first book in this latest obsession, and I really hope that more people will read this book. It was such a fun and interesting read with a completely unreliable narrator.

Synopsis: Many of us had imaginary friends as children, but what if they suddenly came back and weren’t exactly imaginary anymore? Calvin has always believed that it couldn’t be a coincidence that he as born on the same day that the last Calvin & Hobbes comic was published, or that his parents named him Calvin (although they say it was because of Calvinism, not the comic), or that his grandfather gave him a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his cradle. Of course, convincing everyone else that you are the living incarnation of society’s love for the comic is difficult when doctors are claiming you have schizophrenia. So Calvin sets out on a mission to convince the creator of Calvin & Hobbes to draw just one more comic… one set in comic-Calvin’s future, where Hobbes no longer exists, and life is finally normal.

I think I liked this book so much because I really identified with Calvin. He’s a really smart kid who doesn’t understand why he has to learn a bunch of random stuff in school but nothing important about living as an adult. He has been left behind by his best friend, who became popular and stopped talking to him. The stress of school and life finally got to him and became the catalyst for his first schizophrenic episode. I’ve never had such a psychological break, but I can understand how someone could reach that point when the stress gets to be too much.

The writing is fluid, but the dialogue can get a bit confusing when you are switching back and forth between characters. In some areas it reads almost like a play. Calvin is definitely an unreliable narrator. You can never be sure if any of the people he meets are real or not because he isn’t sure himself. With a huge talking tiger stalking just beyond his eyesight, every social interaction is possibly just another break in reality. Even his companion, Suzie, is questionably real. Calvin is never sure if he is just imagining her or if he has actually managed to convince his former best friend to come on a dangerous journey with him. And since every other person he meets could also be a figment of his imagination, even when they interact with Suzie, he can’t be sure if any of it is real. It’s delightfully confusing.

LC rating: 4-stars (quick and fun read with great characters)


2 thoughts on “Review: ‘Calvin’ by Martine Leavitt

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  1. An eye opener kind of read to introduce us to people with schizophrenic conditions. Do you feel sad after the read? Being left by friends, I can imagine how devastating one can feel. Nice review!


    1. I think it was an overall positive read in the end. Calvin learns a lot about himself during his journey, which helps him come to terms with his mental illness. I think the message that this sends to readers is that there isn’t a magical cure for our problems and that turning away from help can often make things harder. But there are definitely some positive results from his journey in the end. I don’t want to spoil anything for new readers though, so I’ll have to leave things ambiguous. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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