Ever wonder what the world would be like without emotion? No laughter, no excitement, no joy? As depressing as that sounds, emotion is actually a chunk of human nature missing from a number of unique individuals around the Earth. I say unique instead of unfortunate because these folks are extremely smart and can comprehend information way beyond what you or I could ever hope to understand. They are autistic. Luckily, there happens to be a little book on the shelves called, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. The novel doesn’t just matter-of-factly provide you with text book information; it’s about a fifteen year-old-boy named Christopher that has autism. He finds himself wrapped up in a story full of mystery, suspense, and… no humor what-so-ever.
Haddon is a writer and illustrator of many award winning children’s books and television screenplays. In his younger years, he worked with the autistic giving him the knowledge needed to write this intriguing story. Today, he teaches creative writing for the Arvon Foundation and resides in Oxford, England.
Haddon wrote the book in first person point of view which really lets the reader understand how Christopher, being autistic, perceives the world around him. Instead of using imagery with words, the author, often times, uses pictures and diagrams to illustrate Christopher’s thought processes. The diction is very blunt and straight forward and seems to be more wordy than descriptive. When Christopher talks to a cop, the conversation is short and to the point. “[The cop] said, “So, do you know who killed the dog?” I said, “No.”[The cop] said, “Are you telling the truth?” I said, “Yes, I always tell the truth.” And he said…” Christopher doesn’t chat with people. He just speaks when spoken to or speaks when he has a purpose to do so. I like that he speaks long-windedly. I never had trouble understanding what was happening in any part of the book because it was always analyzed so profoundly.
In the beginning of the story, someone has killed Christopher’s neighbor’s dog, Wellington, and Christopher is on a search to find out who the culprit is. The book centers on this plot but has many sub plots that emerge from it, including, the mystery of Christopher’s estranged Mother.
Christopher goes on a long journey to find her. On his quest, he really conquers his irrational fears of talking to strangers. He makes smart recollections of the countless amount of information he forever remembers in his brain. As Christopher tries to acquire directions, he remembers that, “they talked to us about Stranger Danger at school they say that if a man comes up to you and talks to you and you feel frightened you should call out and find a lady to run to because ladies are safer.” His thought processes are so interesting. They are unsophisticated translations, but what he often explains is extremely deep and beyond normal intellect. Christopher explains in one situation that the mystery of ghosts might have to do with “…people’s brains, or something about the earth’s magnetic field, or it might be some new force all together. And then ghosts won’t be mysteries. They will be like electricity and rainbows…” I learn more from reading the thoughts of a fictional autistic boy than I do from a text book!
I think this novel is very unique in that it is from the view point of a special needs individual. I feel more understanding and less judgmental of autistic and mentally unsound individuals now. Overall, I liked the general story of the book. It deals with real situations that happen in everyday life. It shows that it happens to everyone, even the mentally impaired, such as Christopher, showing that everyone is equal on this planet.
I would have liked to have seen less curse words in the book. I tend to remember just those words more than I do some parts of the book. For example, if someone asks “Oh, so what happened with the train and the policeman?” All I might be able to say is, “I don’t remember exactly, but I KNOW the policeman said an offensive word.”
I would definitely recommend this novel to others. It is a book that not only captivates the reader but teaches him/her as well.