Winner of the 2016 Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature — Text
In the town of Leamington, Ontario, a seventeen-year-old boy is suddenly stricken by a schizophrenic episode and wakes up in hospital. The boy’s name is Calvin, and he is plagued by hallucinations.
As the hallucinations persist, Calvin comes to believe that the answer lies in performing one grand and incredible gesture.
And so he decides to walk across Lake Erie. In January. The temperatures have been below freezing for weeks. The ice should hold…
The lake, it turns out, is more marvelous, and more treacherous, than Calvin had ever imagined — populated by abandoned cars (joy ride!), ice-fishing eccentrics, psychokiller snow beings, and a not-so-mythical sea witch named Jenny Greenteeth.
Not to mention the man-eating tiger that looms just out of his sight lines as he treks.
But the biggest surprise of all is that Calvin finds himself accompanied by Susie, the girl of his dreams. Or is it his dreams that have conjured up Susie?
Part romance, part adventure story, part quest novel, Martine Leavitt brings her inimitable gentle wit, humor and compassion to a story about a teenaged boy struggling to gain control of his own mind and destiny.
In a thoughtful story presented as a single, extended letter, Leavitt (Blue Mountain) explores the impact of mental illness through the experiences of a 17-year-old diagnosed with schizophrenia. Calvin is obsessed with Bill Watterson and his comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes. It makes sense: he used to have a best friend named Susie and a stuffed tiger named Hobbes, and now Hobbes has returned as a full-fledged, uncontrollable hallucination. Calvin figures that if he can just get Watterson to create a strip depicting the fictional Calvin as a healthy teenager, he'll be fine as well, so he sets off on a perilous journey across a frozen Lake Erie from Canada to Cleveland. He's accompanied by Susie, who may or may not be part of his delusions; either way, she's the voice of reason as they meet an assortment of oddball characters on the lake and delve into philosophical matters. Funny, intellectual, and entertaining, it's a sensitive yet irreverent adventure about a serious subject. Ages 12 up.