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I just finished reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

September 11, 2007

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This short simple book was a powerful read. The author, Mark Haddon, truly captured the voice of Christopher, who is a highly intelligent, yet socially disabled young man living with Aspergers Syndrome (an Autistic Spectrum Disorder). The character of Christopher is genuine – very believable – and I walked away from the book feeling a distinctly new perspective on how individuals experience the world.

Christopher hates yellow and brown, and won’t eat yellow or brown foods, or wear brown clothing. He loves red, and he counts cars on his way to school to determine if it’s going to be a good day, a super good day, or a black day.

The author does a good job of capturing how this young man experiences life, how he perceives the world around him, and what he feels when things are “not as they should be” – disordered, loud, crowded with people, illogical. To have such a high need for order and predicatabilty in an unpredictable world, is indeed a difficult thing to live with.

After his mother’s death, he lives with his dad, and through the investigation into the murder of a neighbor’s dog, comes to find out a good deal of disturbing information about the nature of his parents relationship, and the depths people will sink to to preserve what they love, and to mark their place in the world.

This book is filled with challenging ideas about the way people related to each other, how a marriage is impacted by the challenge of a difficult child, and how lies come to be unraveled in a most devastating way.

The book is peppered with pictures and graphs, mathematical and physical anecdotes, the nature of order and disorder in the world, and at the crux, a young man who is ill equipped to deal with the realities of his own existence.

It was a good, quick read, and I enjoyed it.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2007 12:59 pm

    A close friend of mine has a son with Aspergers. The boy in the book was so much like him! It is a dead-on accurate portrayal of what life is like when you see and feel too much.

    I wonder, sometimes, what it means that the rest of us are so closed off to the chaos of life. I guess the ability to screen out all those details does make life more “livable”—but that ability also walls us off from so much in the world that is beautiful and interesting. Who knew that there could be so many different patterns on cows, for instance?

  2. September 11, 2007 8:00 pm

    Eileen, this is one of my favorite books. When my son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum I read websites and articles and official books about his disorder, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I really got him. While the characeter in the book is older and deals only in prime numbers, my son, at the time of the reading around 5, was only dealing in even numbers. (This year he is nine, so now he deals in odd numbers on odd years and even on even years — i.e. he’ll eat 1 or 3 tacos, not 2; I can kiss him odd numbers of times, etc.). The author totally nailed it. Glad you enjoyed it.

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