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

Before I settled on this WordPress blog, I had a Blogspot and then because of its community feel, a LiveJournal. It was somewhere around my time on LiveJournal, the mid-00’s, that I heard, from practically everyone, about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. There were nothing but rave reviews, and the book became a much talked about thing for a few months and then, like a fashion trend, disappeared. I didn’t read the book then, but the hoopla around it helped stick the name in my mind (not that it’s a name one may easily forget), and so I happened to read it, last week, after so many years.

Curious Incident is about Christopher Boone, a 15-year old math whiz, who has some behavioral difficulties and lacks interpersonal skills. While the writer doesn’t specify Christopher’s condition, one may guess he has some form of autism. When Christopher finds out that the neighbor’s dog has been killed with a garden fork, and gets temporarily accused of killing him, he takes it upon himself to solve the case of the murdered dog. What begins as a simple murder mystery, however, takes Christopher on a roller-coaster ride where he finds out much more than he imagined he would.

While my book cover talked about Haddon winning a children’s fiction prize, I am not sure if I read the version for children or for adults. The content of the book seemed much too grown-up for being a children’s book. Christopher’s autistic needs and demands are a serious look into the lives of these children, their teachers, and their parents. It is not, by any means, easy to deal with and Haddon cuts no corners trying to depict that. That all of this is narrated by Christopher himself, helps give you a clear perspective into an autistic mind, increasing your sympathy for him.

And yet, there was something off about the book, for me. Perhaps this is a book that may be better enjoyed by a younger mind. Maybe I am too old and brazen for the innocence and childlike-ness of the book. I enjoyed Christopher’s sudden segues into puzzles, trivia, and little lectures on things he finds interesting. The story itself, I didn’t care for much. The narrative, with its incessant “And then”s made me palpitate a little. I am not good with anything repetitive, especially if that repetition lasts for 270-some pages. On the plus side, the book was a quick read and I don’t see why anyone should not read it.

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