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Monday, May 30, 2011

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Goodreads Summary:
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.

And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.


This story is written from the eyes of Christopher, a 15-year old autistic child.  Christopher needs things in order.  He doesn't like to be touched.  He is very logical.  He doesn't understand the emotions of others, nor does he understand sarcasm or metaphors.  The way this story is told is interesting because you are able to see life through the eyes of an autistic child such as Christopher.

He finds his neighbors dog dead in her front yard.  First, he is accused of the murder of the dog, but his name is cleared because Christopher always tells the truth.  He doesn't know how to lie and doesn't have a reason to lie.  As I stated, he is a logical thinker.  Christopher is still interested in determining what happened to the dog, Wellington.  The story follows him through this detective work where he finds out more about his life than he would have expected.

This debut novel will make you laugh and feel heartbreak for Christopher.  You will wonder how a parent could treat Christopher how he is treated or tell him what he is told.  Christopher's world is turned upside-down and this could have easily been avoided.  I have never had the opportunity to meet an autistic child or spend time with one, but I feel as though Christopher would be a good representation of the struggles an autistic child would go through on a daily basis.  It seems as though his autism isn't as severe as some children, but it still affects his daily life and how others treat him.

I've been lucky that so far this year I haven't run into many books that haven't held my interest.  This is another that was well-written.  It was difficult at times to follow because you are looking through the mind of Christopher, but with understanding and concentration it's easy to fall in love with this character.

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