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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
It's always nice to jump into another pair of shoes. And by shoes I mean perspective and by perspective I mean lazily being a couch potato, picking up a book and reading a story from the point of view of a retarded kid.
Okay, maybe that's not nice. The kid is autistic. Or Asperger's. (Just so you know, I can say "retard" because my nephew is a retard and on the day he was diagnosed I was issued the "say retard without consequence" card. Plus, I just like the word.)
Anyway, so Christopher is the kid in question. He attends a special school where he has a semi-crush on a teacher named Siobahn and is greatly looking forward to taking his A-Level Maths exams. For some reason in England they call it Maths instead of Math. Go figure.
He lives with his dad and believes his mother is dead. His dad told him that she had a heart attack and died at the hospital. Turns out, not so much. She actually ran off with some guy to the city and wrote letter after to letter to Christopher, but the dad took them and hid them without ever showing them to Christopher.
There’s a neighbor woman, Eileen Shears, with a dog, Wellington, down the street and this comes to the crux of the adventure. Christopher discovers the dog dead in Eileen’s front yard, stabbed by a pitchfork. Eileen discovers Christopher over the dog on the lawn and concludes it was Christopher that killed the dog. He didn’t though. But he liked the dog so decides he’s going to solve the murder of Wellington.
Now, Christopher, being autistic, has certain personality quirks. He likes lists and decides how his day is going to go, whether good or bad, by how many yellow or red or brown cars pass by his school bus. So he starts making a list of what he knows and proceeds on his mystery, like Sherlock Holmes. His hero.
Throughout the book there are little things like riddles and diagrams and the chapters are prime numbers rather than the usual numbering. All a glimpse inside the mind of an autistic boy.
While looking for clues he discovers that his mom never died, his dad had a fling with Eileen, and found the address to his mother’s new home. Devastated that his dad has been lying to him he decides to run away to his mom’s.
I’ve never read a book from the perspective of someone like this, although bits of it did remind me of Flowers for Algernon. This books enjoyment for me was found in the details. The day-to-day existence for Christopher. How he handles getting money from an ATM or the endless patterns of how to keep him calm an stable, from dressing to only eating certain foods of specific colors.
There are parts I was bored with and parts that were slow. It wasn’t the most magnificent book ever written, but it was overall interesting. I did like it and I liked the uniqueness of the setup of the book.
In the end he does solve the mystery and learns about sex from a creepy old lady.
And if there’s a creepy old neighbor lady explaining sex to a retarded kid, how bad could it be?
But if you’re looking for a novel from the perspective of man with intellectual challenges I strongly suggest picking up the classic Flowers for Algernon. But if it’s sold out or checked out, then go ahead and get this book in the meantime.
Kristine is not a creepy old neighbor lady. Yet.