By Sarah Beningfield
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a unique and remarkable novel by author Mark Haddon. The main character is a young boy named Christopher, who suffers from a condition that is unspecified in the book, but which has been described as something like Asperger’s syndrome, which is a mild form of autism.
Christopher describes how he struggles to read facial expressions or social cues. It is clear that he is easily angered and that he reacts with extreme emotion when something upsetting happens. However, Christopher is extremely smart. He can understand numbers without trouble and is studying for his A Level Mathematics paper throughout the book. Once he takes the paper, he will be eligible to go to university, despite only being 15 years old.
The premise of the story is that Christopher is writing a murder mystery novel. He finds his neighbour’s dog, a poodle named Wellington, dead one night, with a garden fork through its body. This discovery causes Christopher to immediately resolve to unravel the mystery of who committed this crime.
The most extraordinary thing about this novel is the way that it is written from the first person perspective of Christopher. It allows the reader to experience what the author determines the thoughts of a person with Asperger’s would be. The book is filled with facts and numbers and it becomes clear that Christopher uses Maths to understand the world. He states that he prefers Prime numbers and that he knows all of them up to 7 057. He numbers his chapters with prime numbers only, which leads to there being 233 chapters in a book with 221 pages.
This is a story that is at times dark, but which follows Christopher through overcoming his social fears and the limitations of his condition, and learning from his difficult experiences.
A memorable quote from the novel: “Sometimes we get sad about things and we don’t like to tell other people that we are sad about them. We like to keep it a secret. Or sometimes, we are sad but we really don’t know why we are sad, so we say we aren’t sad but we really are.”
Readers who would enjoy this: This novel takes a completely unique perspective on life. It is original and different. Appropriate for readers of all ages, but especially those looking for something different from the norm.
Other books by this author:
A Spot of Bother
The Red House