Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

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

This book is unique in that it is narrated by an autistic teenager. He is a savant, with an amazing mathematical ability, but his brilliance in reasoning is matched in degree by his intense difficulty with interpersonal relationships.

The fact that the book started off with chapter 2 instead of chapter 1 stressed me out. I don't know, maybe I'm a little bit OCD. By chapter 19 when Christopher explained that he was numbering his chapters by prime numbers ("because I like prime numbers") not only did this make complete sense, but I felt stupid for not noticing the pattern.

I am not partial to books with little pictures and diagrams in them. At first I was unfavorably reminded of Dave Eggers' You Shall Know Our Velocity, one of the less auspicious and more unfortunate selections of the First Saturday Book Club. But as I continued reading and saw how the diagrams matched Christopher's analytical personality, I found that rather than being a quirky annoyance, they actually added to the story.

By the time Christopher had made his way to London and was briefly living with his mother, I was very invested in the story. I felt so sorry for the father, who had lost everything--first his wife, then Elaine, and now his son. And I could see that Christopher's mom was not the best person for him to live with, but I couldn't see any other option. I was so sure he would not do well on his math A-levels since he was so tired and hungry, and I was mad because I knew he could do very well under the right circumstances.

I was amazed that Haddon pulled off such a hopeful and happy ending. It certainly wasn't perfect, but how perfect can your life be when you're autistic? And I was so thrilled when Christopher received an A grade on his math tests. If he could pull off an A when he felt so tired and hungry that he couldn't even think straight, just imagine what he might be capable of on a Super Good Day.

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