Christopher, a teenage autistic boy, narrates this detective story about his quest to discover who murdered the neighbour’s dog. During his investigation, he uncovers a nasty secret about his father and sets out on a difficult journey to learn the truth about his family.
Mark Haddon has written an insightful and often funny book which sheds light on the unique view of the world held by autistic people. The way Christopher will not eat yellow or brown food and refuses to look at people’s facial features is disconcerting, but when told in the first person becomes part of a logical belief system. The reader can sense that Christopher’s father is barely coping, but the boy’s deceptively simple narrative holds all emotion at bay. The illustrations and mathematical formula included in the boy’s dialogue add to the sense of great intelligence and alienation.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
While the storyline is fairly simple, this novel was very carefully written. We noted the little idiosyncrasies displayed by Christopher such as describing the number of tiny holes in someone’s loafers, or transcribing a letter word for word including the spelling errors. We sympathised with Christopher’s father, never being able to hug his son. We theorized whether Christopher would be happier in an institution, with unvarying routines and plenty of mathematic homework to keep him occupied. Would someone stare him in the face one day and scare him into using his penknife? A fascinating read.