06 July 2009

45. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon is a creative writing teacher who lives in England. He has written children's books and television screenplays. This book is not a children's book, though young adults would understand and enjoy it. Mr. Haddon worked with autistic individuals when he was a young man.

This book is about a 15 year old boy named Christopher Boone. It is written in a first person perspective as though Christopher is the one doing the story telling. What is interesting is that Christopher is autistic. What type of autism is never mentioned, but the books summary assumes it to be Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, or savant syndrome.

Christopher finds his neighbor's dog has been killed with a pitch fork. He decides to solve the crime like his hero Sherlock Holmes would do. He begins and investigation into the crime and finds out much more than he ever bargained for.

Seeing this story told from the perspective of someone with autism was very interesting. The thought process and the explanations as to why Christopher was making the decisions he made explained a lot to me as to how autism affects people.

I enjoyed this story and I especially liked the insight into the mind of an autistic individual. My wife will be reading this book now. She was intrigued by some of what I read to her. Our son has been diagnosed with a possible mild for of Aspergers...and I saw flashes of him in Christopher's behavior. Some of it was dead on accurate as to what our son would say or do in a given situation.

I liked the touch Haddon chose to use concerning numbering the chapters. Christopher likes prime numbers more than cardinal numbers. He chose to number the chapters using only prime numbers, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 all the way up to chapter 233. It was a nice touch. Christopher even devoted part of the book to explaining why he chose to do this and how to find prime numbers.

I recommend this book to anyone who knows someone with any form of autism. It opened my eyes to quite a bit. Maybe it stirred a little empathy because the problem autism creates becomes more understandable after reading this book.

Reading this reminded me of 8th or 9th grade English class. Mr. Mag read "Charlie" (AKA, Flowers For Algernon) in class. He read it like he thought Charlie would speak. It made a huge impression on me at the time. I never looked at retarded people the same. After reading this book, I think it could have that same kind of lasting impression.

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