Tuesday, December 29, 2015


I have loved Calvin and Hobbes for a very long time, and Martine Leavitt's Keturah and Lord Death has been a long-time favorite of mine, so naturally I was intrigued by anything that promised a mash-up of two things I love. Once I got over the initial coincidences: Calvin was born on the last day Bill Waterson's famous comic ended, his grandfather gave him a stuffed tiger and named it Hobbes, and his neighbor is a girl named Susie, I really enjoyed this story.

CalvinCalvin's life seems fairly normal--aside from the whole not-having-friends thing (Susie, who used to be the closest thing he had to a good friend, recently decamped for a more popular crowd). But then comes the day when he's about to fail English and biology--and Hobbes starts talking to him. Hobbes, the stuffed tiger his mom dissolved in the wash years ago.

One hospital trip and new diagnosis later, Calvin learns a name for what has brought Hobbes back: schizophrenia. Now, he's convinced that if he can pull off a risky stunt and walk across a frozen lake Erie, he can persuade Bill Waterson to write one more comic of Calvin, as a 17-year-old, without Hobbes--and he'll be cured.

But things, of course, don't ever go entirely as planned.

I loved Calvin's voice--I liked how Leavitt managed to create a believable boy who clearly questioned the signals his brain sent him, but who never despaired because of it. And I was astonished at how she managed to make a long walk across the ice interesting, suspenseful--and even funny. If the ending was a little underwhelming, well, that's sort of how life goes a lot of the time. The story was worth it for the sympathetic portrayal of schizophrenia, Susie's strength, and Calvin's own beautiful brain.

I also ADORED her homages to Calvin and Hobbes. Anyone who's familiar with the original will appreciate the occasional appearances of Spaceman Skiff, his alien teacher, the transmogrifier, and more.

Some passages I loved:

"It was slower going when you were walking on snow and around chunks and ridges of ice. But it felt good to be in the dimension of nothing. Close to four o'clock now, the sun was lower on the horizon, a whiter hole in a white sky. It didn't shine. It looked like a dead sun, a ghost sun, as if the heat had all burned out of it." (Evokes the deadness of the landscape, the dangerous onset of night.)

"Susie: Doesn't it make you feel kind of awesome that the world is beautiful for no other apparent reason than that it is? Like beauty has its own secret reason. It doesn't need human eyes to notice. It just wants to be glorious and unbelievable"

1 comment:

  1. I love Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson grew up in my hometown!) and this sounds like just the right thing for me. Thanks for the recommendation!