So as promised, I have finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, and I really appreciated this book. That sounds lame – like I didn’t like it – but I did like it. I just appreciated it more because it’s ability to portray people with mental disabilities fairly, compassionate, and honestly.
I realize that I may be the last person on earth to read this book, but in case you’re my comrade in this here’s the basic plot, with hopefully nothing to spoil it. A boy, Christopher, lives with his father in Swindon, and one night Christopher discovers that the neighbor’s dog, Wellington, has been killed. Christopher sets out to discover who committed this crime. Fairly basic plot – until you realize that Christopher has a mental disability (one of my students believes he has autism; one believes he has Augsberger’s – either way, Christopher operates in a different mental world that many of us).
It’s this point of view, one of the most consistent uses of a non-typical point of view that I’ve ever seen, that makes the book so exciting. While Christopher knows everything that’s going on around him and can, in fact, remember things almost verbatim, his way of filtering them and making sense of them is so fresh, so beautiful.
This book makes me understand a great deal more about humanity. It helps me to see that my way of knowing the world is unique but that everyone else’s is, too – and that we are better for these differences. Plus, as one of the Powell’s reviewers said, “This book makes you feel like anyone can be a hero.”
It’s a quick read, but one well-worth it. If you, like me, felt a little bit like you were reading a gimmick at first, read on – soon you learn to live, or at least stick a big toe into, Christopher’s head.
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