You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a story told from the point of view of a fifteen-year-old autistic boy named Christopher. It is a mystery focused on Christopher's discovery of a dog that has been murdered and his attempt to solve the murder. He imagines himself following in Sherlock Holmes's footsteps, an appropriate role model since Holmes is very logical and Christopher sees the world in a very logical way.

We follow Christopher as he questions his neighbors about the crime. He soon angers his father, who doesn't want him bothering people or getting into other people's business. But Christopher is relentless, soon digging up family secrets. After a falling out with his father, he sends himself on a train ride to London. This is a big step because strange people and unfamiliar places are very stressful for him, and he doesn't understand much about the world. But he bravely keeps moving forward, and ends up both disrupting his life and making it more full.

The narration by Christopher is very engaging. He does not understand how other people work or his own emotions, so every scene is presented with logic and facts. He doesn't even understand that other people don't always understand him. For a while we get to live in his ordered world and then see it torn apart in devastating ways.

The relationship between the adults surrounds Christopher, and we watch as he learns about them. I found his family very believable. His father has done as well as he can to deal with his special needs, but still it's not enough. At its heart this is a family drama as seen through a different mind.

I enjoyed Christopher's comments throughout the story about how he sees the world. He is functioning enough to write down his thoughts and explain his point of view. There are certain irrational behaviors he has, such as disdain for the colors brown or yellow, that he tries to provide a rational explanation for. But it is still a thin veneer over purely emotional reactions. He has to deal with being touched, which is uncomfortable for him and most autistic people. One of the most poignant parts is that he won't even allow the people closest to him hug him. There are other interesting touches, like his use of primes to number the chapters, or the references to Sherlock Holmes. This was an entertaining and insightful read. A-


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