221 pages, general fiction
I feel like I’d been looking at the cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in Borders (RIP!) and/or Barnes and Noble for a few years now. The cover art is eye-catching and the title intriguing. I didn’t actually pick up a copy until I found it at Saver’s for $1. Best book-dollar spent this year, I think.
The story is a first-person account of a boy who has a form of high-functioning autism, Asperger syndrome, or savant syndrome—though the disorder is not explicitly mentioned. He finds a dog that has been killed in his neighbor’s yard, and embarks on a quest to solve the mystery. The details lead him to deeper mysteries about his life and his parents, and it’s all he can do to fit everything into his unique world—once whole and simple, now broken.
The book is candid and hilarious and terribly sad. I recommend it to anyone reader, from early high school all the way up. The conversations that surround the book—about autism/savantism/Asperger’s, about truth and lies, protecting the ones we love, doing the best we can, and overcoming betrayal—are so important.
The protagonist’s narrative, though coming from a world perspective colored by his disorder, is refreshing, and leads us to question our prejudices about these disorders. If anything, the protagonist’s clarity is stunning, yet his limitations (food cannot touch on the plate, etc.) point up his humanity in a touching way, not a pitying or insensitive manner. I think Haddon avoided naming the disorder so that the theme here would not be limited to the way we see Asperber’s per se, but the way we see everyone.
In short, read it. Now.