Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

A month or so ago, I took a survey of sorts on Facebook that listed 100 books that are must reads and this book was on it. I have had this book on my iPod for several years, but never got around to reading it and when I finished a book in late March with the Quilt Show fast approaching, I decided to listen to it then.

In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Christopher Boone is a 15 year old British, autistic boy who lives with his father because his mother passed away suddenly 2 years ago. I don't think that he ever says in the book that he is autistic, but in Christopher's narration of the events, it is very hard to mistake that fact. Everything is taken at face value and, while he knows that he shouldn't stick his nose in other people's business, he also knows that he wants to write his story and that is the most important thing to him.

One night while wandering his street, Christopher comes upon a neighbor's dog that has been stabbed by a pitchfork. The neighbor finds him holding the dog and assumes that he was involved in the killing and has Christopher arrested. Because of this, Christopher decides to write a book on solving the murder of the dog. He is very clear that this will be a "murder mystery novel" and that there will be no humor in the novel.

Christopher was wrong!

This book was an adventure novel of an autistic boy who sets out into the world beyond his small world all by himself. And it most definitely contains humor! He explains his fascination with prime numbers which explains why the chapters are only numbered with prime numbers. He explains his need that food not touch and why sometimes it is OK if it touches. He describes what happens when he sees 4 yellow cars in a row.

At one point in the story, Christopher has to snoop in his father's things to find his novel that his father threw away and Christopher stumbles on letters from his mother. He runs away from home and evades police for his adventure and the matter of fact way that everything is remarkable. I could almost feel myself tensing when someone moved to touch him.

This is a short story and in some places it is marked as a Teen book, but it's one that I would definitely recommend - I thoroughly enjoyed it!


Brenda said...

Thank-You for the book recommedation!! I don't read alot of fiction, but this sounds like one I would like. Now I am going ot have to check it out!! Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

another one for the list...

carol fun said...

Jill - I LOVED this book. I read it years ago and have recommended it to many people as great way to understand autism. The author worked with autistic children and really conveyed their experiences. As the mother of an adult son with Aspergers (a form of autism) I've suggested this book to lots of people as a quick way to get a taste of the discorder. More people need to understand how complex autism is and how difficult it is to deal with both for the individual and the family. Thanks for giving this little gem some press. Take care!

Victoria said...

Jill. I "read" this book in the car on audiotape with my then teenaged son who happens to be an Aspie just like Christopher. I was shocked to see so many similarities between the character and my Alex. I was even more surprised to hear how involved my son was with the story. I got a lot of "oh, that's not good," and "that was mean," he isn't happy, Vic" from the back seat. Later on, I tried to read the book aloud to Alex bt we had to give that up because the voice on the tape was British and mine was not.
Like the protagonist, Alex would not listen to a voice that was different from the one he considered to be the "right" one. One big differnce, though, Alex would never own a rat, I would never be able to have that in my house. Yuck!
BTW, do not judge the mother too harshly. I have had more than a few days when things just seemed to be too much. I definitely emphasized.