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Friday, July 07, 2006

cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This is an amazing book written from the perspective of a 15-year-old autistic boy. Everything about the book was immediately engaging and unique, and particularly apropros since I had just finished reading Oliver Sack's Anthropologist on Mars. Christopher, the narrator, finds a neighbor's dog dead with a garden "fork" (some Britishism?) stuck in it, so he decides to investigate (or, as he calls it, "do detecting") and solve the mystery. Although he is very logical, has an amazing memory, and is brilliant at math, because he is autistic Christopher can't interpret facial expressions and doesn't like to talk to strangers. Along the way on this adventure, Christopher uncovers all kinds of adult tragedy and emotional pain (mostly rooted in his own parents difficulty in dealing with him) that he really doesn't understand. I found this to be a brilliant and moving book.

I found the writing style completely believable and engaging-- I especially love the fact that Christopher says he is writing this book as a project, with the encouragement of a teacher at school, and the way diagrams are included, and even an appendix with the solution to one of the problems on his math test that he thought was particularly interesting. During the amazing sequence when Christopher travels on his own to London, I was intrigued to read how he notices every detail of the places where he is (not just that there are cows in a field, but how many, what color, which way they were facing, etc.); the reader even gets to experience this a little bit when Christopher is in the train station-- first he is reading all the signs, without discriminating or dividing, and then he becomes overwhelmed by them and they all get jumbled together.

I highly recommend this book to anyone. Not only is it delightful and often funny, but it offers a unique perspective into someone who is "different." It's particularly telling (and troubling) to see Christopher interact with people who don't know him, and they either think he is retarded, or incredibly rude, or weird because they don't understand.

Title:The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author:Mark Haddon
Date published:
Number of pages:
Notes:Recommended by Kendra


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