THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME by Mark Haddon

BIBLIOGRAPHY   Haddon, Mark. 2003. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME .  New York, NY: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-50945-9.

PLOT SUMMARY
Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic fifteen-year-old boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor’s dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS
The narrator is an autistic boy, which makes for a very intriguing read.  The first thing I was entertained by is that the chapters are numbered ONLY by prime numbers, so we move from chapter 1 to 3 to 5 to 7 to 11 with nothing in between.  His very logical, unemotional mind makes reading this very thought provoking.  When he is picked up by police and put in a holding cell because he is found holding a dead dog who is stabbed by a fork, he is so calm, noticing the lightbulbs and things around him very clinically without worry.  In his mind, he knows he is innocent, so he will leave when his father arrives.  My mind was scurrying about thinking, about how I’d have to convince them I was innocent, what if they didn’t believe me?  Who was with me or could have seen me?  Those worries never cross his mind for the simple reason that he didn’t do it.  Period.  So everyone must think that as well.  The book continues this way and my initial thought was that it must be nice not to worry.  Then I thought about how confusing things would be when you don’t understand emotion and facial expressions that people use.

Overall, I completely enjoyed this book, Haddon did a great job portraying the mind and thinking of someone with Autism, which aids in understanding those in the world afflicted with it, or just people who are different than you are.  The compassion and comprehension evoked I believe are great benefit to those of us that do not deal daily with this challenge.  The book is appropriate for many ages, teens as well.

REVIEW EXCERPTS
“the novel brims with touching, ironic humor. The result is an eye-opening work in a unique and compelling literary voice. “  — Publishers Weekly

“…story evokes emotions in readers-heartache and frustration for his well-meaning but clueless parents and deep empathy for the wonderfully honest, funny, and lovable protagonist. Readers will never view the behavior of an autistic person again without more compassion and understanding. The appendix of math problems will intrigue math lovers, and even those who don’t like the subject will be infected by Christopher’s enthusiasm for prime numbers and his logical, mathematical method of decision making.”  — School Library Journal

“This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy; whether describing Christopher’s favorite dream (of a virus depopulating the planet) or his vision of the universe collapsing in a thunder of stars, the author makes his hero’s severely limited world a thrilling place to be. “  — The New Yorker

“Narrated by the unusual and endearing Christopher, who alternates between analyzing mathematical equations and astronomy and contemplating the deaths of Wellington and his mother, the novel is both fresh and inventive.”  — Kristine Huntley, The New Yorker

CONNECTIONS

After reading Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime you might want to read:Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Austistic Savant: a Memoir by Daniel TammetThinking in Pictures and Other Reports from my Life with Autism by Temple Grandin

The Way I See it: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s by Temple Grandin

A Friend Like Henry: The Remarkable True Story of an Autistic boy and the Dog that Unlocked His World by Nuala Gardner

Dyslogic syndrome: why millions of kids are ‘hyper’, attention-disordered, learning disabled, depressed, aggressive, defiant, or violent – and what we can do about it by Bernard Rimland
The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon (Fiction)

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