The curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon is a mystery of sorts, a poignant story of a family struggling and a non-romantic portrayal of a teen with autism. I say non-romantic, because often novels give us a pretty, fictionalized picture of children with physical or social challenges and this book is different.
It is straightforward, and touching at the same time. I like it very much. After reading this novel, I know more, and understand more, about autism, not on a medical level, but on a personal level. Actually, when, a few weeks after I had read this novel, a teen at my place of work came up to my desk to borrow some books, I instinctively felt that he had some form of autism (which I later found out was true). This novel gave me an emotional point of view, an emotional understanding. For this understanding, the book is worth reading.
The story begins with a curious incident, the killing of a neighbourhood dog with a garden fork.
Christopher, the main character of the book, a teen with autism, finds the dog.
“I pulled the fork out of the dog and lifted him into my arms and hugged him. He was leaking blood from the fork holes.
I like dogs. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Also, dogs are faithful and they do not tell lies because they cannot talk.
I had been hugging the dog for 4 minutes when I heard screaming. I looked up and saw Mrs. Shears running toward me from the patio. She was wearing pyjamas and a housecoat. Her toenails were painted bright pink and she had no shoes on.
She was shouting,”What in fuck’s name have you done to my dog?”
Christopher is accused of killing the dog, brought to the police station and later released. He then decides that he will solve the mystery of the dog killer. In solving this mystery, he decides to write a book about it…which is the book we are reading.
There are many surprising and sad turn of events in this story. Christopher documents all of these in his didactic style. It is fascinating reading. I love his maps, his timetables, his graphs and his numerical way of coping with life. This is a must read. You’ll love Christopher and you’ll love his book. I highly recommend it.
**I won’t tell you if Christopher finds who killed the dog. You”ll have to read the book to find out.
Let us know how you like the book and what you learn about autism.
If you would like to learn more about autism, go to www.autismCanada.org