Tuesday, 30 September 2008

book review...

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

Christopher is 15. He lives in Swindon with his father and Toby, his pet rat and knows "all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,507". He abhors all yellow and brown things, thinks he would make a good astronaut, and has never been further than the end of the road on his own until his discovery of the "murder" of his neighbour's dog turns him into an amateur detective.

Mark Haddon uses Christophers condition to show adult behaviours through the eyes of an autistic child. It is simple, effective and at times very frustrating for the reader who 'feels' for how Christopher is treated by people who simply do not understand or have time for him. It also highlights beautifully the confusing lives that adults lead! On the day he is told his mother is dead, he records his Scrabble score, and notes that supper was spaghetti with tomato sauce. But he isn't callous or indifferent. He can cope with facts, with concrete detail; emotions confuse and alarm him.

Charlotte Moore of the Guardian Newspaper says "Autistic people are not easy subjects for novelists. Their interests are prescribed, their experiences static, their interaction with others limited. Haddon ingeniously uses Christopher's admiration for Sherlock Holmes to lead him out of this stasis, not to effect some miraculous "cure", but so that a story can happen. Detective fiction, relying on the accumulation of material facts, is the only fiction that makes sense to Christopher. As he collects facts relating to the death of the dog, he unwittingly pieces together a jigsaw that reveals to the reader the lies, grief and evasions of his parents' lives."

Christopher's innocence makes him vulnerable, but it protects him too and at times I felt so emotional reading the book I just had to carry on and finish it! The book is sad, but also full of humour in the situation and observations of Christopher, such as when he observed his special needs classmates!

I loved this book and hope you did too? Please tell me what you thought of it by posting a comment...

1 comment:

  1. Hey Emma, I found this book really hard to read. My first husbands brother is autistic and to read how Christopher was treated by his parents, neighbours and strangers was so hard to bare sometimes.

    The part at the underground was the most frightening. I almost couldnt read that part. The way the two strangers just got on the train and left the situation was so shocking. Yet they were in shock themselves.

    Human behaviour can be alarming. Everyone has busy lives. Being ignorant of others problems/conditions/situations can be said of all of us at one time I guess. Isnt that awful.

    The part where Christophers dad hit him was so cruel.

    When I finished the book I was relieved. I cant explain why, if I'm honest I just found it to uncomfortable to sad. I was just so worried about Christopher.

    I was glad to read something I wouldn't normally choose. I was suprised by how many of my friends had read it.

    Thank you for starting this club. I look forward to the next book.

    All the best ClareX

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