Determining what's real and what's imagined is just part of 17-year-old Calvin’s everyday life. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Calvin believes his world is intrinsically linked with that of Bill Watterson’s iconic comic strip Calvin and Hobbes—he was, after all, born on the last day the strip was published. As he communicates daily with tiger Hobbes—knowing he must be a delusion—Calvin feels the only way he’ll ever be normal is to travel to meet Watterson and have him draw just one more comic.
So Calvin, Hobbes and Calvin’s best friend, Susie (he wonders at times if, she, too, is a delusion), set out on an ill-advised and perilous quest across frozen Lake Erie, all the way from Canada to Ohio, to meet Watterson. Along the way, the trio tries to sort out life, love and reality, while braving the elements, challenging their own demons and meeting some characters along the way.
National Book Award finalist Martine Leavitt has created a cleverly framed story about living with mental illness from a first-person point of view. The book is written in dialogue among Calvin, Susie and Hobbes and as a letter to Watterson. Everyone may question his identity and his reality from time to time; Leavitt poignantly and wrenchingly shows what it’s like to struggle with that all the time. Although intended for an older audience, it bears similarities to the insightful look at disability from the eyes of the beholder in Sharon Draper’s award-winning Out of My Mind.