Tag Archives: mental illness

Book Review: Calvin by Martine Leavitt

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Published Nov. 17, 2015
181 Pages

As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.

He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson. – Goodreads

Calvin & Hobbes is one of my top comic strips next to Peanuts. It was one of those things, where I would read comic strips in the newspaper my parents would get sent to the house every week. Comic strips are very close to home to me and with this recent read, my love for physical newspapers coming to my door each week was renewed.

But to the story and my interest in it. Calvin is pretty much getting by in school and life, when one day he passes out in class. After some test and speaking with the doctor, he is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Because of the parallels of his life and the actual comic, he believes a new strip getting rid of his delusion would be the cure. So he goes on a mission.

I really liked the aspect of this book because it gives you the fantasy feel of it. The hero of the story goes on a grand journey of self-discovery, with deep thinking and emotional torment to become a better person. This is literally what he does but the author adds to much to the journey across Lake Erie, that although this book is realistic fiction, it gives you something a bit fanatical that pushes the book. This is the driving force in the book and as simple as it is, it worked perfectly.

But with that being said, my biggest issue with the book was the writing format as opposed to the style. There isn’t really a break, when someone begins speaking i.e. the book is formated like this

Susie: blah blah blah Calvin: blah blah blah

There is no breaks, so it looks like everything is just flowing together. Not the most terrible thing but it isn’t my prefered way to read. Another concern with the book, is nothing exactly happens. The journey is a hard one but not because there are a bunch of obstacles Susie and Calvin come across. You believe some things are coming because they do come across people but for the most part nothing happens. The journey although difficult due to the weather and yeah you know walking across ice, is more of a mental and emotional experience.

Overall, this was an interesting take. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a retelling but Calvin & Hobbes was the foundation. And although there was a bit of disappointment at the end of the book, this was a good filler in between reads.

3 Pickles 

Book Review: House of Ash by Hope Cook

Amulet Books
TBP Sept. 26th 2017

After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.

But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.- Goodreads

If you ever read Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake then that is what you mind is going to gravitate to. The story is similar to the whole boy falls in love with a person from the past who is dead. That is where the similarities end between the two books because for the most part this was a very straight forward story. This is not to say it wasn’t a good read, it was just very linear.

Curtis is going through a really hard time taking care of his father, who has a mental health illness and his younger sister, who is a bit of a brat. I appreciate the author speaking bringing attention to mental health illness in the book but there was a bunch of things lacking with it.

It isn’t really discussed as into what he is actually dealing with. All that is known is that hospitals are no, his father needs to be a schedule and he can become violent. Yes, you find out what happened for this illness to occur but I guess wanted it to tie into what Curtis discovers about himself and his bloodline. I liked the fact that it was in the story and it showed how teenagers deal with a sick family member and the responsibility of it. It made Curtis complex that is for sure.

In regards to his sister, she is un-loyal, she expects her brother to understand and try to get to know her but she does not do the same at all. She doesn’t give as much as Curtis does and she depends on him to fix things and then gets mad. I didn’t like her at all and she should have been a stronger character and way more supportive of her brother.

Beyond the characters the overall story was alright. As I previously mentioned it is really straight-forward and not a whole lot happens in both the present and the past. When things pick up, you get pulled into the story but it didn’t deliver like felt it could of.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read and I do recommend it because it has some good writing and it makes me want to read more of this author.

3 Pickles. 

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Clarion Books To Be Published Jan. 3rd, 2017 320 Pages
Clarion Books
To Be Published Jan. 3rd, 2017
320 Pages

Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. She can’t leave the house and her weekly visits to the doctor causing mental and physical exhaustion, that leaves her like a puddle. One day while she is trying to get the groceries from the front porch using a stick, her new neighbor, Luke spots her and a friendship begins to build.

Unaccustomed to these new emotions, Norah wonders if she can let Luke in or if he deserves a normal girl, unlike her.

I’ve been itching for this book for a while and was too happy when I was approved for it via Netgalley. This book was everything I had hoped for in other books detailing mental health with young adults.

Firstly, in the beginning of this book, it did remind me of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (my favorite!) but it quickly developed into something different, something on its own. The summary makes it seem like this entire book is about a romance but it isn’t. I mean its there but it isn’t the only thing that should be paid attention to.

It was realistic; obviously this is a contemporary book. But what I mean is that it was believable. The author did not shy away from being detailed and did not shy away from the agony of emotion that Norah felt. Not only did I feel for her, I felt with her. The author was able to grasp “dating” from someone who only lets her mother touch her in such a cute and frustrating way. While reading this, I didn’t feel that there needed to be more details, the pace was perfect and Luke was too good to be true.

I liked Norah. She wasn’t just her illness. She was smart, sarcastic, caring with a hint of sensitivity. Norah didn’t have a whole lot going on with her personality but that is to be expected when you don’t leave your house.

I did at one point feel that the author may have done too much with feeding into Norah’s paranoia. Other than that, I cannot complain about this book. It was a realistic interpretation of mental illness and the fear of people not accepting you, believing you and helping you.  While also throwing in there some cute cute first love.

This was a perfect read and I highly recommend it to people who are even remotely interested in mental illness from fiction viewpoint.

5 Pickles

Book Review: A Cure for Madness by Jodi McIsaac

Thomas & Mercer To Be Published Jan. 19, 2016 299 Pages
Thomas & Mercer
To Be Published Jan. 19, 2016
299 Pages

Clare Campbell has put enough distance between herself and her troubled family that she thought nothing would ever bring her back to the small town she is from. 

But when her parents are murdered in the street, Clare must return home to not only take care of the funeral arrangements for her parents but she also now has to care for her mentally ill brother, Wes.

Ready to leave at the first chance she can, a deadly pathogen outbreak takes over the town, causing any chances of leaving to become impossible. Soon the government steps in and there is a high interest in Wes. 

Determined to make up for the wrong she did to her brother, Clare will do anything to protect Wes.

*Short Review*

This book too so many turns, it was slightly hard to keep up.  I also wouldn’t label this book as thriller. There was a lot of running around, some killings and some conspiracies but nothing in me would say this is a thriller. At first, I was thinking science fiction but it really isn’t that either. Its something but it sure wasn’t thriller.

The story went from dysfunctional family, to out of nowhere murder, to I hate this small town and responsibilities, to government conspiracy and finally sacrifice. I don’t mind the shifting topics as much as I mind the characters that help move this process along.

Wes was a butt and this had nothing to do with her mental illness. For a lot of the book, he was mentally stable and made some pretty clear (and understandable) decisions. He wasn’t as incapable as the book try to make him appear.

I didn’t like Clare. She was a very selfish woman and even at the end I am not sure if her intentions was even pure. And since I mentioned the ending, I would like to say it was full of crap. It was meant to make Clare human, to show growth and to not seem so selfish. But she was; everything about her, beginning to end was selfish. Her intentions was not pure at all and the author just threw a happy ending in there which made the problem worst.

I did like the pace of the novel and I did like the story overall. But Clare was just horrible and a lot of the story left me scratching my head or rolling my eyes.


2 Pickles