Books / Reviews

Understanding Christopher Boone

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a novel written in 2003 by author Mark Haddon. This mystery is told from the point of view of 15-year-old Christopher Boone, who despises the color yellow and loves his pet rat, Toby. Christopher finds his neighbor’s dog (Wellington) dead on his street, and his determination to solve the mystery of Wellington’s death leads him to uncover life changing information about his mother. The telling of this story from Christopher’s perspective is unique and fascinating because he is on the autistic spectrum. The narrator does not like to be touched, cannot understand jokes or facial expressions, and dislikes spending time with others. For many readers, the character of Christopher Boone is extraordinarily frustrating and difficult to empathize with, making this novel a tough read.

“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”
― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

This book must be read with an open perspective and a clear understanding of what autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is. Autism is the general name for a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. ASD causes repetitive behavior and impairs verbal and nonverbal communication skills. The condition of autism in each individual is unique and widely varying, hence the name ‘autism spectrum’. The narrator Christopher Boone is exceptionally good at math and knows every prime number up to 7,057, but cannot identify the emotions portrayed in the following images:

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Christopher has what is called high-functioning autism because he has a very high IQ.  For some, it may be difficult to understand how someone can memorize all the countries in the world and their capital cities, but not be able to interpret the meaning in someone’s tone of voice. Those with autism have minds that work in a particular way, and take time to comprehend. The author worked with people with ASD, and translated his experiences into the character of Christopher. Haddon was able to uniquely place the reader in Christopher’s mind so one could understand the thought process of an individual affected by this disorder.  If you so choose to pick up this novel, bear with Christopher until the end to gain an insightful and eye-opening perspective on those affected by ASD.

“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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