A while back I posted about one of my favourite books of 2011, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. But I never actually dedicated a post to this wonderful book. I’m a jerk like that.
The time has finally come to remedy that.
I should tell you that this book had been on my list for a good long while, transferred diligently to at least 2 new agendas (which is where I keep my physical To Read list). I have this problem where every time I go to the book store to pick out new titles, I am seduced by the new and suggested, rather than referring to my own, ever growing, list of reads.
I digress (another problem I have).
Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was a Whitbread Book of the Year (2003) for a reason. I’m way late on the bandwagon, I know, but this book astonished me, for all the right reasons.
It’s brilliant and original and touching and funny and so very sad all at the same time. It is unexpected in all the best ways.
It starts out rather gruesomely, when Christopher comes across his neighbour’s dead poodle on her front lawn. The poodle has been stabbed with a pitchfork. Pretty nasty business. The neighbour comes out, screams at the sight of her beloved companion dead on her lawn and calls the police when she sees Christopher there and he gives her cryptic answers about what he is doing. The police arrive, Christopher gives them more of the same and he is brought to the police station until his father can be called to pick him up.
What becomes apparent on his father’s arrival at the jail, is that there is something different about Christopher. He doesn’t like to be touched, so his parents have come up with another way to ‘hug’ each other and show affection. He doesn’t understand metaphors, taking everything literally because one can’t really eat an entire horse when they are hungry.
Christopher is autistic.
He goes to a special school to teach him how to cope in a world where no one says exactly what they mean, how to read other’s social cues so that he doesn’t make other people unnecessarily uncomfortable. After the incident with the dog in the middle of the night, Christopher decides to investigate and write a book about his investigation. He feels that he will hep his neighbour if he finds out what happened to the dog.
But Christopher ends up finding out a lot more than he expected, with further reaching consequences than he ever could have foreseen.
What starts out as a simple, if slightly different, murder mystery, turns into a story about family and love and being a little bit different. Christopher ‘s life turns upside down and he handles it better than he probably ever thought he could, a testament to the resiliency of all human spirit, even of those that think a little bit differently. The whole time that he tries to find out what happens to the dog, he is also studying for a math final that will enable him to go to college away from home and try to see how he handles those changes.
I loved this book. I loved Christopher and the way that he sees the world. I love that he takes metaphors literally and doesn’t understand why when people tell you to be quiet they never specify how long you should be quiet for. He’s one of the most original characters I’ve ever come across and I love him.
If you haven’t read this one yet, and I know I’m late to the party so you probably have, you should pick it up. Give it a read. It’s a nice quick read if you’re trying to reach an impossible book reading goal.