The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been on my to-read list for years and I’m annoyed with myself for ignoring it for so long! It was critically acclaimed when first published in 2003 and it’s wholly deserving of the praise it has received – it is simply wonderful.
Protagonist and narrator Christopher Boone has Asperger’s Syndrome, and his teacher has encouraged him to write a book. Since fiction involves lying and lying makes Christopher uncomfortable, he chooses to write a murder-mystery novel about a real life event – the unexplained murder of his neighbour’s dog. He vows to don his detective’s hat to get to the bottom of the mystery, but he finds himself unearthing information that completely changes his world and forces him into a terrifying journey in which every single one of his fears must be faced.
Haddon manages to capture the complexities of Christopher’s mind with incredible skill, and the book made me truly appreciate the difficulties faced by individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Christopher struggles to understand the emotions of other people and takes things that others say completely literally, which makes his interactions with strangers very intimidating. He strives for routine and consistency, he hates it when people touch him, and he can’t stand brown or yellow things. He likes rules to be rules, appreciates lists, plans and patterns, and understands maths far better than he could ever understand humans. The way that Haddon has Christopher explain his reasoning behind his likes, dislikes and behaviours is wonderful; there is a logic to everything, even things that to a neurotypical person would seem wholly illogical.
There’s a lot of sadness in this book, and yet there’s also humour, hope, and glimpses of happiness. It doesn’t have the cheeriest of endings, but that only makes it all the more real and powerful. Christopher will face adversity for the rest of his life, but with the right support he will make his way through it, just as he made his way through investigating the murder of his neighbour’s dog.
It’s a fabulous book – I can’t recommend it highly enough.Follow Ellie Scott on WordPress.com