Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

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

This is my life right now.
Here I sit at 9:30 on a Sunday night, three days late on this blog post.  Now seems like as good a time as any to catch up on all the things I should have done earlier this week, right?.  And I have plenty of time you see, since my daughter JUST told me that she would like to wear a certain dress for spring picture day tomorrow.  Where is said dress, you ask?  That's the bottom of her hamper.  So since I will now be up for a full wash cycle (50 minutes) and subsequent dry cycle (35 min), I have plenty of time to share my review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. (Side rant:  why are we parents now subjected to TWO picture days a year?  Do the school photographers of the world hate moms?  Is one $50 picture package a year not enough?  And of course they just have to make the class picture available during the spring only.  Jerks.)

Now that I have that off my chest, let me get back to more important matters and tell you all about this book.  First, it is written from the perspective of Christopher, a 15 year-old boy who is investigating the death of his neighbors dog.  Christopher discovered the dog and was immediately considered a suspect.  Knowing he is innocent, Christopher embarks on an investigation to find the real killer.  Against his father's wishes Christopher interviews neighbors, follows up on leads and eventually finds out way more than he bargained for.  His journey leads him to find hidden letters addressed to him from his mother (a mother he was told had died).  From there he discovered tales of an affair between his father and another woman, the real story behind the murder of the neighbor's dog, and eventually a reunion with mother in London.  The story ends with Christopher moving in with his mother and simply visiting his father a few times year.

Quite a series of life-changing events for anyone, let alone a 15-year-old boy.  What if I told you Christopher also has Asperger's Syndrome?  Having Asperger's, Christopher now has a whole other set of issues to deal with that go along with his discoveries.  When he becomes a suspect in the dog's murder, he assaults the police office who questions him because he is sensitive to touch.  That leads to an arrest (and eventual dismissal of charges).  Unable to process the fact that his mother is really alive and that he had been lied to for so many years, Christopher spends hours upon hours in his bed sick and vomiting.  After he decides to go and try to find his mother in London, he is rendered almost catatonic in the train station.  The abundance of stimuli is too much for him and it is only due to a series of near miracles that he makes it out.
Although Asperger's is not mentioned specifically in the book, Christopher describes himself as "a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties."  It is clear from the book summary written by the author that Asperger's and high-functioning autism are a central focus of the book.

The mystery surrounding the murder of the dog and the familial relationships were actually enough to make this a decent book.  But Christopher and how he navigated his series of tragedies is really what made this book great.  It wasn't what I would call a "fun read."  But then again, autism spectrum disorders aren't fun.   They are real.  They are real for so many people and sadly, they are becoming real for more and more people every day.  What this book does is remind us that everything is not always what it seems and we need to be more aware.  That child screaming in the grocery store might be having a meltdown because he can't process the sound of the wheels of the cart on the linoleum floor.  That girl in the waiting room chewing her collar and soaking the front of her shirt in drool may be dealing with the fact that she is anxious.  We can't presume to know everything, we can only be aware.

April is Autism Awareness Month.  I encourage you to make yourself aware if you aren't already.  You could start by doing something easy like clicking on the link above or by reading this book.  Reach out to a friend that is a parent of a child with autism or better yet, drop by with a cup of coffee.  How we treat these children and their parents will shape the future for generations to come.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous Aunt Barb again. Well said Sarah! Well said. Must read this book too!