Calvin was born on the day the final Calvin and Hobbes comic strip was published. His parents claim that they didn’t name him after it, that’s it’s just a fluke. They don’t understand what’s the big deal about his grandfather putting a stuffed tiger named Hobbes into baby Calvin’s crib, either. Calvin understands the significance. He is special: eternally bound to Bill Watterson, the creator of the beloved comic strip.
Then his mom accidentally washes Hobbes to death and everything changes.
When I was nine or so, Mom washed Hobbes to death. She threw him into the washing machine with a few towels like she’d done lots of times before, but this time he busted up in there. When the wash was over, the towels were gummed up with tiger guts and tiger fur. Mom slowly pulled the mess out and into a basket, saying they were old towels anyway and maybe she’d just chuck the whole thing into the garbage and sorry, Calvin, I guess he just wore out.
Before Hobbes died I was one way, and after, I was different.
Before Hobbes died I wanted to win the Change the World Lottery. I wanted to be that person who does one thing that makes the world better. The world only spits up one of them every hundred years or so, and the odds were six billion to one that I’d win. Einstein won it with the theory of relativity, but given the lower population of the world, the odds when he was alive were slightly higher.
Before Hobbes died, I thought I could win that lottery. After Hobbes died, I started to see how dumb that was. I realized you have to be a freak of nature to win that lottery, I mean to really win. I wondered if it was worth it. Freakdom is a high price to pay for a ticket. I also began to wonder why I wanted to Change the World in the first place. Fame? Money? Was that any reason to want to Change the World?
Before Hobbes died, a cardboard box could be a time travel machine or a transmogrifier. After, it was just a cardboard box.
I noticed other things, too. After Hobbes died, I got scared of careening down steep hills in my wagon and on my sled. After Hobbes died, I wasn’t scared of the monsters under the bed anymore. I started to be afraid of climate change and nuclear bombs and all the things I heard on the news that didn’t go shrinking away when you turned on the light or your mom walked into the room.
Not only does Calvin face his teen years without his imaginary friend Hobbes, but his best friend Susie goes and gets pretty and popular and ruins everything.
When the novel begins, Calvin’s a quirky senior in his last semester at high school. He’s brilliant, but he totally sucks at the mundane. Namely, homework. Calvin procrastinates and fails to finish his final English and Biology projects on time. The stress of possibly flunking out of school, on top of an encounter with a bully who steals his lunch--and his girl, Susie--results in Calvin’s psychotic breakdown. His ole pal, Hobbes, reappears.
At the hospital, Calvin’s diagnosed with schizophrenia and told by his psychiatrist not to worry, that with medication he should be able to live a normal life. Calvin doesn’t buy it. He gets it into his head that the only thing that will cure him is a trek across frozen Lake Erie where he can meet Bill Watterson and convince him to draw one last comic strip featuring Calvin, all grown up. With no Hobbes.
Susie breaks free from the popular crowd to visit Calvin in the hospital. When he clues her in on his plan to cross Lake Erie, she insists on going, too, which is great. She is a real girl, right? Not just another delusion? What’s not so great is that Hobbes insists on tagging along, too. Or, maybe Hobbes is just what Calvin needs for this one final childhood journey.
Highly recommended for adults and teens, and especially for fans of Calvin and Hobbes.