Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*       = Good, with reservations


*****The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

by Mark Haddon

Reviewed October 9, 2003.
Doubleday, New York, 2003.  226 pages.
A Today’s Book Club Selection
Available at Sembach Library (F HAD).
Winner of the 2003 Booktrust Teenage Prize.
Winner of the 2004 Whitbread Book of the Year.
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #2, Literary Fiction

I must be a bit of a snob about my reading tastes, because this is the second Today’s Book Club selection that I’ve read, and the second that I thought was fabulous, and that has me a little worried.  (The other was The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.)  I’ve decided that they must have a person with wonderful taste making their selections, and I should just get over it and look for more.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is narrated by a fifteen-year-old boy with autism.  The book begins when he finds his neighbor’s dog dead on the grass in the middle of the night.  He liked the dog, so he takes out the garden fork and holds it.  Of course, then the neighbor thinks that he killed it.

The marvelous thing about this book is how beautifully it presents the world from the point of view of someone with autism.  He introduces himself as Christopher John Francis Boone.  He knows “all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057.”  In fact, he captivated me immediately by numbering his chapters with prime numbers:  2, 3, 5, 7, and so on, instead of the traditional way, because he likes prime numbers.  He’s something of a mathematical genius, but he cannot read people’s faces, and doesn’t like to look at them and doesn’t understand other people’s emotions.

The author completely pulls us into Christopher’s world, making us want to explain when other people misunderstand him.  We know what they are thinking based on Christopher’s reports, but he has no idea.

Christopher decides to investigate the dog’s death because he likes murder mystery novels because they are like a puzzle.  In this investigation, one thing leads to another and Christopher ends up facing the biggest challenges he’s ever faced in his life.

I’ve always said that one of the great things about fiction is its ability to let you experience the world from a different person’s point of view.  Mark Haddon gives us a totally new perspective in this magnificent book.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund. All rights reserved.

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