- Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
- Author: Mark Haddon
- Genre: Fiction
- Pages: 226
- Format: Paperback
- Other: Goodreads, Amazon
- Grade: C (3/5)
Book Description: 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. And he detests the color yellow.
Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.
I thought I would love this book. I love books about people who are different from me because it helps me understand what a person with that disability or whatever might be experiencing. It gives me a different perspective. I should have loved this book.
But I didn’t.
That said, the story was interesting. I wasn’t surprised with how things worked out, but it all made sense. The pieces fit together, and the author left us little hints along the way.
It was also insightful, especially with how raising a child with disabilities might impact the parents. It’s very stressful raising someone who struggles to function independently. Many parents aren’t up to the task. Because of this, Christopher’s parents felt real.
While I appreciate the attempt at being inclusive, I didn’t think that Christopher was a realistic character. He is autistic, he lives with his father in London, and he goes to a special needs school. And it was clear the author had a pretty good understanding of what autism is, what it looks like, all of that. But it was just a surface level understanding. After everything, Christopher felt like a textbook case of autism. He had fixated interests (and he was very talented and intelligent in those interests), he had a hard time understanding and connecting with people, he had difficulty expressing emotions, he had sound/visual sensitivities, and when stressed, he would groan and cover his ears. To me, he didn’t feel like a real person with autism.
I also struggled with the writing. It’s written from Christopher’s perspective, and part of his disability includes a difficulty to understand metaphors, symbolism, and emotions. Because of this, the writing (descriptively) was sparse. The author also chose to write in run-on-sentences that felt rather disjointed. It was difficult to read, and instead of offering me insight, it only left me feeling distracted and frustrated.
Overall, this book didn’t do much from me. Yes, I see why some people love it. I see why some see it as a modern classic. But ultimately, it isn’t something I’d ever read again, and it isn’t something I would recommend to a friend.