Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Psychtember Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon is actually a reread for me. And it was just as good, if not better than the first.

It's a book about Christopher, a young boy trying to figure out life. Although I don't think the book ever directly specifies his disorder, Christopher falls somewhere on the high functioning side of the Autism Spectrum. He doesn't relate well to people, has a really hard time understanding facial expressions beyond happy and sad, does not do well with change or being touched, and is highly intelligent, especially proficient in math and science.

Watching the world through Christopher's eyes is so incredibly interesting, as is listening to his inner commentary. He is very matter of fact, likes dealing in absolute truths and doesn't understand emotion. When most people think of love, more than anything else, it's a feeling. It's nearly impossible to define, because everyone experiences it differently, and there are so many different kinds of love. But for Christopher, love is a very specific thing. For him, "loving someone is helping them when they get into trouble, and looking after them, and telling them the truth... " (pg 87)

Christopher's voice throughout the book is very unique. I've never read another book like it. Christopher does not like lies and he always tells the truth. Lies are just too complicated. He also doesn't understand social norms or nuances, which means we get some very interesting commentary, and Christopher points out many things that people would normally never say aloud. It's a book that made me chuckle to myself more than once. I feel a little bad laughing at it, because Christopher is not trying to be funny. But his deadpan delivery is just... funny. It's a little like watching someone fall down. You feel terrible because your impulse is to laugh, but there is just nothing you can do to stop it... It's awkwardly funny.

As a book in general, the story itself is not really that awesome. What makes the book worth reading is Christopher. He is the one writing the book, as an assignment for class, and he decides to write about something true, because he doesn't like lies. When he discovers his neighbor's dog dead in her yard, he decides to write a mystery and try to figure out who killed Wellington. He wants to write a mystery because it's the only kind of fiction he likes to read (fiction feels too much like lying).

Christopher lives with his dad, because his mom died a few years ago and his dad tries really hard to be what Christopher needs, to be able to help him and give him the best care and attention possible. It's obvious, that although he does make mistakes (some really big ones, actually) that he really and genuinely does care about his son. That kind of love, even if Christopher doesn't really get it, is strong and there are moments in the book where you can very nearly touch it.

There might be some inaccuracies here, in Haddon's portrayal of an autistic boy. I am not well enough studied to be able to tell you if it is perfectly accurate or not, although it does follow what I understand of the disorder. So, don't go using this as a way of saying — Yes. I now know all there is to know about life with autism. But do use it as a way to learn a little more about your world, and to learn a little bit about what it might be like to be living in a world not meant for people who think like you. It would be a challenge, every single day. So remember that. Take that into consideration. And maybe use this book as a reason to start paying more attention to your surroundings, to the people around you. Use it as a way to realize that there are different ways to view the world, different ways to see, but that doesn't make them right or wrong, just different.

This is a book that I highly, highly recommend. To pretty much everyone. There are things in this book that I think everyone could stand to learn, could benefit from taking a look at. So why don't you give it a try. It just might expand the way you view your world. And really, that's a good thing.