A touching and moving story of a boy, Calvin, struggling with mental illness and the real?-ationship that grows between him and his friend girl, Susie. The story is framed within a Calvin and Hobbes narrative, as part of a letter to the founder of Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson.
This novel dives into relevant and important issues for young adults – schizophrenia, school stress, peer relationships, bullying – using accessible dialogue and familiar references (eg. Calvin and Hobbes). It is a quick read, mostly using dialogue to advance the story.
True to the nature of the subject matter, it is difficult to determine how much of the story being told is real and how much is imagined by the protagonist. This fine line between reality and imaginary is both intriguing and frustrating as a reader, especially since events in the story are hard to believe – finding a car in the middle of frozen Lake Erie, the hermit poet that offers the teens refuge, etc. Also, I felt like schizophrenia was treated quite superficially in that it promoted the stereoptype of schizophrenia manifesting primarily as multiple personalities and talking to yourself.
Both main characters are likeable. However, they seemed to be knowledgeable and insightful beyond their years (or maybe I was not nearly as knowledgeable and insightful as a teen!).
Walking Read Grade: 4.5/5