The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Published May 18th 2004 by Vintage
I have had this book on my bookshelf for a long time and decided it was time to read it. Having a grandson who was recently diagnosed with high functioning autism may have something to do with that decision. The story begins with Christopher, a teenager with autism, chronicling his investigation of who killed his neighbor’s dog. It was not an easy task and at one point he ended up assaulting a police officer. He is writing a book, a mystery, that parallels his investigation, but after his near arrest, his father takes his book, with Christopher thinking he threw it out. Searching the garbage, the house and finally, his father’s room, has him making a shocking discovery. Christopher decides to begin a new investigation into a different mystery. He is determined to track down somebody who he is more interested in meeting.
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ offers an insight into the mind of someone with autism. The story is told with a quirky, light-hearted narrative which details random facts, stories and opinions of Christopher, and how he best explains the reasons for his odd habits and behavior. One of the things Christopher does is label his chapters with prime numbers. At first I was a bit confused wondering if the book was out of order, but when this was clarified, I found myself trying to figure out what the next prime number would be and smiling when I was correct more often than incorrect. The main tension in this book comes from Christopher’s issues with people—primarily strangers. He is afraid of crowds and new places, and he sometimes acts out in ways that could get him or another person hurt. He’s constantly clutching the Swiss Army knife he keeps in his pocket. He does not want to be touched, even by people he knows, so a stranger touching him really freaks him out. My heart went out to this young man. He is alone in a strange world, trying to find someone he hasn’t seen in over seven years, trying to navigate people when he has no social skills. A well-written, quick read enabling the reader to have a small peek into the world of autism. I heartily recommend this book and can’t believe I waited this long to read it.
Synopsis: Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.
Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.