Many books describe the problems of people with disabilities. Many others tell other people how to cope with them. Mark Haddon’s novel suggests what it’s like to be such a person.
In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Christopher Francis Boone compensates for his autism by solving complex mathematical problems and immersing himself in science. When someone kills his neighbor’s dog, he decides it is a detective problem and sets out to solve that as well.
In gifting Christopher with an analytical mind, Mark Haddon gives us insight into what the “normal” world is like to a disabled person. The complex equations that come so easily to Christopher would baffle most readers. Conversely, he finds people perplexing. “I don’t know what Father means when he says ‘Stay out of other people’s business’ because I do lots of things with other people, at school and in the shop and on the bus, and his job is going into other people’s houses and fixing their boilers and their heating. And all of these things are other people’s business.”
More confusing, and dangerous to Christopher, are the angry relationships in his life, to the point that he must either strike at or hide from them. Crowded rooms, excessive noises, changes in his routine are also crippling. “It is like when a computer is doing too many things at the same time and the central processor unit is blocked up and there isn’t any space left to think about other things.” These challenges make Christopher’s life a terrifying adventure.
For me, this novel was a fascinating journey that I could not fully enjoy because of an enormous amount of offensive language. Otherwise it would rate five stars instead of only three.