Saturday, April 16, 2011
Take a Chance: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
9: LibraryThing Pick: Go to LibraryThing’s Zeitgeist page. Look at the lists for 25 Most Reviewed Books or Top Books and pick a book you’ve never read. Read the book. (Yes … you can click on MORE if you have to.)
I picked this title from the 25 Most Reviewed Books list, and yep, it was the only one I hadn't read that I was willing to read. I'd heard lots of good things about this book, but had never felt like I particularly wanted to read it.
And it turned out that I liked the book a lot. It's a novel written from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy with fairly severe autism as he tries to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbor's dog. His naivete and inability to understand the world (which he finds overwhelming, scary, and illogical) bring you in. It's easy to be fond of Christopher. At the same time, it's easy to understand that his parents--who are very ordinary people--find it tremendously difficult to deal with him. Their natural parenting instincts don't work. You can't hug a kid who finds physical contact to be scary and the opposite of comforting. The reader is allowed to see into Christopher's mind, but his parents are not.
As Christopher pokes around trying to figure out who killed the dog, he uncovers a whole lot of other information that shakes his world very badly. He has to figure out a lot of new things, and it's very hard for him, but it's also an accomplishment.
One thing that struck me about the book was that none of the people Christopher meets during his adventures seem to realize the obvious: that he can't function like other people. They tend to assume that he's just weird or rude or purposely infuriating. I find this a little puzzling, because I think that autism is now well-known enough that at least some people would be able to figure out that a kid who acts like Christopher does is autistic, or at least that he has some mental issues.