The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon was as fascinating read, partly because it allowed a glimpse into the mind of a person with autism and partly because I recognize some of the behaviors in myself. Not that I have autism. But I do have obsessive compulsive disorder, and the craving for order, for logic in an illogical world that you see in the book is eerily similar to what you see in a person with OCD.
Christopher knows a lot, especially about numbers. In fact, he wants to take his A level maths, go to university, and become a scientist. He’s got it all figured out, even if he doesn’t like being touched and his day goes depends on the color and number of car he sees on his way to school. However, that all changes when he sees his neighbor’s dead dog. As he tries to unravel the mystery of the dog’s death, his carefully constructed world starts to unravel.
This book gave me the feels.
Christopher is hard to relate to for obvious reasons: he’s autistic. That is not something that people who aren’t autistic can fully understand, but we can try. For me, he was more relatable because of my OCD. I loved how this book showed his love for logic and his problems relating to people; it’s such fundamental information to know. And he was still likable, even for being so different. You could see the emotions that he had so much trouble expressing.
Christopher’s parents obviously love their son very much while still being unable to relate. They’re clearly doing the best they can, even as their mistakes—some small, some huge—make it even harder on Christopher. I love how they’re clearly flawed but still trying.
The plot is fairly straightforward, but it takes interesting turns as Christopher goes on his journey. Or rather, Christopher takes some interesting turns. You see, he has rigid ideas on how things must be, and those ideas bend as he starts to find out that he’s capable of more than he thought he was.
The internal dialogue was so authentic and often brutally honest:
“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”
And often beautifully moving:
“And when the universe has finished exploding all the stars will slow down, like a ball that has been thrown into the air, and they will come to a halt and they will all begin to fall towards the centre of the universe again. And then there will be nothing to stop us seeing all the stars in the world because they will all be moving towards us, gradually faster and faster, and we will know that the world is going to end soon because when we look up into the sky at night there will be no darkness, just the blazing light of billions and billions of stars, all falling.”
Having a child with autism is hard, and this book delves into the difficulties experienced by the parents, neighbors, and even strangers. It teaches us that we understand so little about it, that it’s as individual as the person who has it. It teaches us that autism is not a bad thing, but something beautiful and unique.