Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Incident, not so Curious

If you don't know me in real life, you might not know what type of work I do. I currently work in special education, in a large public school. Through my training and work I have come into contact with many students (middle school and early childhood) with a diagnosis of autism.

My book club and I recently read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" by Mark Haddon. This book is basically about a boy with autism, though after reading the book I debate whether it is truly autism or actually Asperger's syndrome. I digress. The publisher review calls it a mystery, a heart breaker, and "a novel of exceptional literary merit." I question all but the heart breaker part.

Christopher (the narrator, who is writing his own first person novel that the story is told through) is 15 years old and lives with his Dad. The story is written, again first person, as Christopher thinks. At many times in the book I felt this point of view was possibly over emphasized, and one reviewer stated the author seemed to be pushing you to the point that he imagined parents of children with autism felt. There were several pictures, diagrams, and math problems that I truly could have lived without.

There are really only two true plot twists, which I'll admit I didn't see one coming. The other I did. After both twists are revealed, Christopher begins a journey that is very difficult for a person with his difficulties in the large social world. He begins his journey, ends it, and from there the book dwindles down very quickly.

One review of the book from goodreads that I felt truly summarized the book states, "Haddon does a pretty good job overall at presenting you his story through the eyes of an autist, which is to say the prose isn't the most graceful. It's not supposed to be. It's supposed to strike you with it's stiltedness and make you think about how the thought process of your narrator differs from your own. This is an effective technique, but one wonders if it's the best narrative choice for an entire novel. The story actually comes to a rather abrupt finish in the last twenty pages or so, which almost suggests that Haddon himself got tired of generating a story in this voice and wanted to put the book down himself."

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was an extremely quick read, I finished it in two sittings of one day. It was one I had on my to read list, but had it not been a book club book, I probably would not have finished it. If you don't have any perspective of children with autism/asperger's, it might be a great read for some perspective; but other than that there wasn't a whole lot to the story and I didn't get anything out of it. It didn't leave me with that feeling of, "Wow, I want to read that and relive it all again!"

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Devin said...

I love this book. I've read it three times. It's one of my favorites. I love that it's not the same story written the same way as every book out there; it's a very unique read.

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