Rebecca Says… Read This Book by Mark Haddon

By Rebecca Johnson

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

Christopher Boone is 15. He knows all the prime numbers up to 7,507 and all the countries of the world. He has a pet rat named Toby, and he hates the colors brown and yellow.

During one of his nightly walks, Christopher discovers that someone has killed his neighbor’s dog. He is determined to nail the culprit and begins to write a mystery novel recording his discoveries. The pages that follow uncover the mystery of the dog’s death, but also the secrets, lies and evasions of his own family.

Christopher has Asperger’s Syndrome. The back cover of the book alludes to this, and although it is never stated outright, Christopher himself writes about the differences in the way his mind functions compared to others. He cannot understand emotions. He cannot tell a lie. He is very observant, but he cannot differentiate between what is important and what is trivial. He does not understand his own effect on the lives of his parents, and he does not understand how his condition affects others, or even himself. Christopher simply knows what has happened and what his photographic memory retains.

The lack of emotion in Christopher leaves it all for the reader to feel for him. His detachment from his own thoughts and emotions is at times heart-wrenching, but it also allows Christopher and the reader to see the situation in an unconventional light. I flipped between empathy for Christopher, and aggravation with him, and guilt for becoming aggravated. As I read the story, I found myself guilty of the same feelings his parents had that made their situation worse. I was engaged through the entire book. Reminiscent of Flowers for Algernon, Mark Haddon and his knowledge of autism provide an insightful look into the thoughts and the brain of a social outsider.

About this writer

  • Rebecca Johnson Rebecca Johnson is, at the moment, an editorial intern and an ice cream scooper. She is a student at the South Carolina Honors College at USC studying journalism and international relations. She enjoys hot tea, South Carolina football, a good hike and a great quote. Some day, she hopes to say she is a designer, photographer, writer, and journalist. But above all, she is a hopeless wanderer.

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