Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
Number of pages: 226 pages
First line: It was 7 minutes after midnight.
Goodreads blurb: Despite his fear of interacting with people, Christopher, an autistic 15 year old math genius, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and discovers secret information about his mother.
There are a couple books on this year’s challenge list that I was apprehensive to read. (I still feel that way about Poisonwood Bible, which is coming up later in the year.) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was the other one, because I wasn’t sure that I could emotionally relate to a first-person narrator who has trouble experiencing or expressing emotion. I assumed that the book would come off as clinical and cold, and that I wouldn’t feel engaged as I read. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I completely fell in love with Christopher as a character. My heart went out to this young man for whom life is often simply too much: too much noise, too much to see, too much touch, too much everything. He has a fairly ordered life, even though his dad doesn’t always know how to deal with his particular needs, but then everything is thrown off kilter when he finds Wellington, his neighbor’s dog, stabbed to death with a garden fork. Christopher is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, but during his investigation, he learns much more about his own history.
The adult characters in this novel are a bit harder to pin down, as we only see them through Christopher’s eyes. The grown-ups in Christopher’s life have varying degrees of understanding for his unique qualities, and some have very little patience.
I loved the way the book was written, with math references that reflect Christophr’s area of expertise. I was at first confused by the lack of a chapter one, until I realized the chapters are numbered with primes. The other math references and Christopher’s explanations of how his mind works – or doesn’t work – made him seem so real. I don’t know exactly how Haddon did it, but he completely got into the mind of an autistic teenager.
(If you enjoyed this book, I highly recommend following it up with Patricia Wood’s Lottery.)
Did you read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time? If so, please let me know what you thought in the comments. If you write your own review – or have in the past – please link it here so I can check it out.