The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
by Mark Haddon
I bought this book for my daughter on her 17th birthday and she devoured it in one sitting - no mean feat for the non-reader she claims to be! Her reaction? "Read it Mummy you'll love it" - and I did.
The narrator of the story is 15 year old Christopher who has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. He has a photographic memory, is a mathematical genius, can name every country in the world and its capital city but cannot understand, or relate to, other human beings. When a neighbour's dog is found dead on her lawn, obviously murdered, Christopher decides he will solve the crime and write a book about it. He embarks on this task in the manner of that other great logician Sherlock Holmes, whose methods Christopher admires and to which he can totally relate. But as he delves deeper into the mystery he finds himself in the completely illogical world of adult relationships and his necessary routine of order and logic disintegrates.
The agony Christopher suffers when things are not 'just so' is utterly convincing and one suffers with him. He solves complex mathematical problems in his head when things get too much for him. His literal perception of the world is touching and sometimes infuriating and the adults around him find it all too much.
This is a deeply affecting book and Christopher is a beautifully drawn character. Coincidentally, on the day of writing this, I heard on the radio Nick Hornby (author of Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, About a Boy etc) talk about his son who has this condition and the stress it puts on families. I don't know whether Mark Haddon is writing from first-hand experience but the reader certainly comes away with huge respect and admiration for those with Asperger's and their families - a beautifully written book.
Read our interview with Mark Haddon.