Tuesday, September 27, 2005

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

Author: Mark Haddon
ISBN # 0099456761
272 pages

Christopher is 15 years old & lives with his dad. He likes logic, maths & science because he understands them. What he doesn't understand is people - he hates being touched & cannot respond in the "normal" way to the emotions of others. In his opinion, animals are much better - they don't tell lies because they can't talk. So, when his neighbour's dog, Wellington, is mysteriously murdered with a garden fork, Christopher takes it upon himself to decipher the curious incident of the dog in the night-time & solve the crime in the style of his hero, Sherlock Holmes, & write a book about it as he does. In doing so, he unravels more secrets than he had bargained for & embarks upon a voyage of self-discovery that will take him away from the small town where everything is as he likes it, into a wider world where everything is confusing, scary & strange.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has won the Whitbread Book of the Year award, the Guardian Children’s Fiction & the Book Trust Teenage Fiction award - & deservedly so! If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had other important things to be doing, I wouldn’t have put it down at all. As it was, even with the forced intermissions, it feels like I read this at warp-speed!

Haddon has a way of drawing the reader into the characters, especially that of Christopher, the focus & narrator of the story, who he has written so well that identifying with him & his problems becomes easy, even if those problems are uncomfortable to deal with. Autism is a difficult subject to tackle due to the preconceived ideas many people have, but it has been mastered artfully here & I felt that Haddon was completely in control with incredibly well-researched material. It felt real - compellingly so.

In the end, I think the main message of this story is universal: Limits are self-imposed & when we have to courage to push the boundaries, we open ourselves to new possibilities & find that we can accomplish anything.

Rating: 10/10


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