After last year’s miserable book blogging showing, I am determined this year to make book blogging a high priority. With that in mind, my first post of 2018 is a book review. I read The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-time over the Christmas holidays, sharing the book with my daughter. I loved it, she didn’t – mainly because she couldn’t relate to the autistic boy who is the protagonist of the book.
About the Book
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. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.
Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind.
~ Synopsis from goodreads
In a nutshell, I simply adored this book. There are a few reasons for that – some of it personal, and never talked about before on the blog. Last year, my son was diagnosed with some sensory conditions that make it difficult for him to interact with other kids. The councilors we met don’t call it autism as he’s pretty high-functioning and has met all milestones, and manages himself pretty well. It’s just that he comes pretty close to it because of sensitivities to sound, certain textures, and smells. Anyway, he shares some characteristics with Christopher Boone from the novel (picky eating, dislike of crowds) but in a way more milder way.
Still, even though I knew this book was about an autistic boy, I still didn’t get around to reading it. That is until, it came on Snubnose’s recommended reading list. She’s actually in a play where she plays the role of Christopher and she wanted the book to understand more about the character. So, of course I bought it, and of course I read it first.
I went into this book expecting a bit more of a mystery. Initially, I was disappointed when the mystery is revealed in the middle of the book itself. And if you are looking out for a mystery novel, I would not recommend this book to you. It’s more of a character study (and a very empathetic one at that) into the thoughts and motivations of Christopher.
This is where the novel shines. Haddon does a great job depicting both Christopher’s unusual behavior and the reasoning behind his idiosyncrasies. The plot isn’t anything much, but the struggles in Christopher’s mind give a certain tension to the book making even a simple rail journey from Swindon to London very interesting.
Also, because Christopher is the narrator of the book, we get an insight into his thought processes. He goes into details about small things (which a regular narrator might not do). He also seems to be a visual thinker rather than verbal as there are frequent illustrations peppered throughout. Christopher’s interest in maths and physics also are reflected throughout the book. In some places, these details make the plot paralyzingly slow. Definitely my daughter thought so. She was also alarmed by Christopher carrying a Swiss army knife everywhere he went. There’s also certain amount of bad language and references to sex that embarrassed Snubnose thoroughly. She ploughed through and finished the book, but it won’t go down as one of her favorites.
She also didn’t particularly appreciate Christopher’s rather blunt way of communication:
Father was standing in the corridor. He held up his right hand and spread his fingers out in a fan. I held up my left hand and spread my fingers out in a fan and we made our fingers and thumbs touch each other. We do this because sometimes Father wants to give me a hug, but I do not like hugging people, so we do this instead, and it means that he loves me.
I get where she’s coming from. The language does seem a bit too simple, but I felt it was the right touch given the nature of the book, and in fact I was probably moved a lot more by his unemotional writing style, than I would have been if this had been expressed differently.
I found myself in tears near the end of the book when Christopher achieves all that he has set out to do – investigate the mystery, travel on his own, and ace the A-levels. It was really heart-warming. In the end, he gains so much in self-confidence when he realizes that he can do anything.
And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery of Who Killed Wellington? And I found my mother and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.
Overall, this is a book that I loved. I loved how the book depicted the world through the lens of a boy like Christopher. This is the first book I read that’s written from such a unique perspective, and I’d like to read more about autistic kids – fiction, non-fiction, whatever. Do you have any recommendations for me?
You can also buy a copy of this book from Amazon.