Tuesday, May 19, 2009

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

Summary: Christopher, an autistic 15-year-old, narrates this story as he tries to solve the murder of his neighbor's dog. Socially awkward and a frustration to his parents, Christopher finds solace in math and logic, and uses those skills to navigate his world. When he discovers his father has lied to him, Christopher undertakes a journey on his own.

Musings: This book is immediately unique because of its narrator. The story is told solely from Christopher's point of view, which means we understand events as he sees them. Because the majority of readers are not on the autistic spectrum, we can see the underlying meaning in many of Christopher's encounters and also understand why such meetings are terrifying for Christopher. Christopher uses drawings and math tangents to explain himself and his emotions in the only way he can.

Although Christopher's story has a clear beginning and ending with strong conflict along the way, Christopher sets out only to recount his life as he sees it. That means some characters are introduced and then dropped (like the kindly neighbor Mrs. Alexander) and other characters appear frequently, but in the periphery (like his teacher Siobhan).

Christopher's take on the world is both funny and sad. His quirky logic to everything he encounters is both odd and strangely rational. Christopher himself is a paradox: a genius who cannot operate "normally" within society.

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