Tag Archives: Martine Leavitt

Book Review: Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published Nov. 17, 2015
181 Pages

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. – Goodreads

Calvin & Hobbes is one of my top comic strips next to Peanuts. It was one of those things, where I would read comic strips in the newspaper my parents would get sent to the house every week. Comic strips are very close to home to me and with this recent read, my love for physical newspapers coming to my door each week was renewed.

But to the story and my interest in it. Calvin is pretty much getting by in school and life, when one day he passes out in class. After some test and speaking with the doctor, he is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Because of the parallels of his life and the actual comic, he believes a new strip getting rid of his delusion would be the cure. So he goes on a mission.

I really liked the aspect of this book because it gives you the fantasy feel of it. The hero of the story goes on a grand journey of self-discovery, with deep thinking and emotional torment to become a better person. This is literally what he does but the author adds to much to the journey across Lake Erie, that although this book is realistic fiction, it gives you something a bit fanatical that pushes the book. This is the driving force in the book and as simple as it is, it worked perfectly.

But with that being said, my biggest issue with the book was the writing format as opposed to the style. There isn’t really a break, when someone begins speaking i.e. the book is formated like this

Susie: blah blah blah Calvin: blah blah blah

There is no breaks, so it looks like everything is just flowing together. Not the most terrible thing but it isn’t my prefered way to read. Another concern with the book, is nothing exactly happens. The journey is a hard one but not because there are a bunch of obstacles Susie and Calvin come across. You believe some things are coming because they do come across people but for the most part nothing happens. The journey although difficult due to the weather and yeah you know walking across ice, is more of a mental and emotional experience.

Overall, this was an interesting take. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a retelling but Calvin & Hobbes was the foundation. And although there was a bit of disappointment at the end of the book, this was a good filler in between reads.

3 Pickles 

Book Review: My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt

     Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)   Published Sept. 4, 2012           256 Pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published Sept. 4, 2012
256 Pages

I don’t usually read realistic fiction but I made a promise to review more of these genres.

16 year old Angel meets Call at the mall when he sees her shop lifting. Instead of turning her in he buys her food and tells her he loves her. After some time he offers her candy (drugs) and Angel no longer thinks about her mother who died and pretty soon she is addicted.

Kicked out her house, Angel moves in with Call and begins working on the corner to receive more candy. When her friend Serena disappears and Call brings in a new girl, Angel decides a stand must be taken.

This book is told in verse so it was a fairly quick read but that doesn’t mean it was any less emotional. But because this book is still a fiction novel I have to judge it as such and state what I felt was wrong with it.  I felt that there should have been more detail as into why Angel began stealing. I understand her mother passed away but did she have friends?  If not, why? How close was she to her mother? We obviously know she wasn’t close to her father but was she no old enough to not take drugs? She is 16.

I am not stating that it cannot happen it just didn’t seem realistic to me that is all. Also when Angel spoke it was if she never went to school a day in her life. As if she was always living on the street.

What I enjoyed about the book was the emotions. You felt Angel’s pain, and confusion. It was powerful. Do I think it would have better if the book wasn’t written in verse? No, I think if it was written as a typical novel the author would have to stretch Angel’s before and after story.

Overall, I thought the book was a good scared straight tactic which I am assuming was the point of the story. I give it an 8 out of 10. I needed a bigger reason for why a 16 year old girl made the decision she made.