“My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7507.”
I had heard from autism before. I knew that people with autism or asperger’s syndrom lacked social interaction skills and the term autist is sometimes even used as an insult, but after reading the book ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ by Mark Haddon, I realized that there is much more to it. Mark Haddon illustrates the world through the eyes and mind of a 15-year-old boy named Christopher Boone who has asperger’s syndrom. He understands maths and science like nobody else, but what he doesn’t understand are other human beings. It’s extraordinary to read how an autist like Christopher thinks and acts. If something unexpected or something Christopher is afraid of happens, like strangers touching him, a brain malfunction occurs.
The book begins with a murder of the dog from the neighbors. Christopher likes dogs, because they are predictable, and therefore understandable, unlike humans, so he decides to investigate the murder. But he winds up discovering many more secrets about his parents. His father told him his mother was dead, but he discovers the contrary is true, when he reads the letters she wrote to him. His father hid these letters because he wanted to bury the past. These letters revealed the fact his mother was now in London with another man. This is very confusing to Christopher and he decides to run away to go to live with his mother.
This is not a funny book. Christopher can’t tell jokes because he doesn’t understand them. Because the book follows the way Christopher thinks, the writing style of the book is very practical and neutral, although there are many things in the storyline that a lot of people would experience in a very emotional way. While the reader is touched by some parts of the story, the narrator, Christopher, doesn’t experience emotions that way.
In the story a lot of painful things happen to Christopher: The death of the dog, his father telling him his mother was dead and reading the letters. But also, while reading the book, I recognized the tragedy of the parents having a child like Christopher. Like when he was shopping in town with his mother he crouched down the floor of a shop because there were so many people and put his hands over his ears and shouted and knocked merchandise off the shelf, or when he wandered off somewhere at night and his father was worried sick about him.
I would recommend this book to everyone, because it’s very well written and provides you with an inside look in the world of the autistic mind and how Christopher portrays the world.
The author Mark Haddon must really like math, since numbers are all over the book. To begin with, the chapters are numbered as prime numbers. There are also numerous mathematical problems and formulas in the book. Christopher uses them to calm himself down when he panics, or just for fun. He explains problems like the Monty Hall problem, check it out in this video:
“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.”