Tuesday, 24 May 2016

The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time - Mark Haddon

photo courtesy:goodreads.com
For a long time, I was put off by the book because of pre-concieved notions. I had this impression in my head about this boy with autism and the patronising way in which this boy deals with it.

I was wrong. I remember My name is Khan where Shahrukh Khan does a sorry portrayal of a man with autism. It put me off and I reckon that influenced my decision in refusing to pick up this one.

Then I remember coming across this character in one of my favourite dramas - Holby City. There was this character called Jason who had Aspergers and it was then I was introduced to more accurate portrayal of the syndrome and this intrigued me enough to reach out for the book.

I am glad I did. It is a funny, intelligent and an engrossing read.


Christopher Boone is a 15-year-old boy with some "behavioural difficulties". He derives comfort in mathematics, where the complex numbers offer him comfort from the rigid societal guidelines. He lives with his dad. One day he discovers that his neighbour's poodle has been killed with a fork. It brings out the detective in him and he decides to look for the perpetrator. However, this journey takes me on another one where he had to deal with some harsh realities.

What works:

  • The character. Society hardened individuals like us can easily figure out that the character is weird. But what makes him endearing is his direct and transparent approach towards situations. He has a very black and white way of seeing things but with the help of his mentor Siobhan he tries to make sense of it all. It is superbly done and works so well.
  • The plot. It seems like an ordinary plot but as it progresses the complexities are woven in which makes it a rich tapestry of emotions and situations.
  • Since the book is from Boone's point of view, it is a very refreshing perspective which transforms ordinary situation into something enlightening.
  • Loved the way Siobhan breaks down societal concepts into understandable chunks. Made me wonder, we are such complex individuals. It is not Boone, but us who make things complicated. Especially where the bit where Siobhan says, that people do not reveal they are sad even when they are. It made me feel like such a hypcrite! 
  • Loved the optimism in the book. It feels weird, I mean we would never get into situations like Boone, but with his complex issues like touching and straightforward answering, life must be so difficult for him. However, he manages to get what he wants. he delves into the root of the matter and gets to the crux of it. In the process, he also manages to set things right. What a life affirming feel the book has.  
What doesn't:
  • I am not much of a maths lover. Therefore I could not appreciate the the mathematical formula and the prime numbers in the book. However, I could understand how Christopher needed them to make sense of the world and thought they were well used.

A truly fascinating read. A superb book on autism and aspergers syndrome. I read somewhere that the author did not want it to be associated with aspergets or autism but to me, that is what the book is and found it to be a great way of understanding how their minds work. 


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