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Let’s be honest: most teenagers procrastinate. Most teens don’t, however, confront an eight-foot stuffed tiger prowling around their bedroom at one in the morning.

On the novel’s very first page, however, Calvin blunders through both.

Then again, 17-year-old Calvin doesn’t exactly conform to standard high schooler behavior --- he knows what your R cortex does, considers dead spiders a token of affection and thinks he’s the star of Calvin and Hobbes come to life.

But when his English teacher morphs into a bug-eyed alien, for once Calvin reacts just as expected. He runs for his life.

A dozen psychological tests and one schizophrenia diagnosis later, Calvin and his ex-best friend Susie embark on a three-day slog across Lake Erie. In Canada. In January. But can braving 72 hours on this frozen “garbage popsicle” coax the Calvin and Hobbes creator into drawing one final comic? And can a cartoon of a teenage, tiger-free Calvin restore our protagonist’s sanity?

Never has a novel crammed so much impact into 190 pages; you’ll cry, you’ll laugh til you cry and you’ll plunge through every emotion in between. And whatever you do, don’t underestimate Calvin’s almost episodic plotline. Sure, the wonders lurking on --- and under --- Lake Erie don’t exactly culminate into your typical climax. (Spoiler alert, you’ll never see looking-for-Fred guy again.) But, Fred or no Fred, these bursts of the unexpected elevate CALVIN from a novel about schizophrenia to a true glimpse into a schizophrenic brain.

"Never has a novel crammed so much impact into 190 pages; you’ll cry, you’ll laugh til you cry and you’ll plunge through every emotion in between."

Not to say you can’t find culmination if you’re looking for it. After all, CALVIN does chronicle a pilgrimage (yes, that’s how the protagonist describes it) across an arctic wasteland; what’s more culminating than surviving --- or succumbing to --- dashing feats of bodily danger?

Not much, though Calvin and Susie’s slow-burn, near-cerebral romance does culminate wonderfully.

More allegory than swashbuckling adventure, CALVIN will get your heart racing and then rip it in half. The frozen wasteland doesn’t just threaten Calvin’s survival; it also reflects his bleak mental state.

Looking for laugh-out-loud, adrenaline-charged, heart-wrenching, hallucinogenic surrealism? Pick up a copy of CALVIN and prepare to fall in love.

Reviewed by Alison S., Teen Board member on November 10, 2015

by Martine Leavitt

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • ISBN-10: 1250104254
  • ISBN-13: 9781250104250