THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Reviewed by Anne McCarthy, Research Officer, Stewarts Hospital Services Limited

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What a joy to have come across this gem of a novel. This funny, sad and utterly un-put-down-able masterpiece brings the reader inside the head of fifteen-year-old Christopher, who has Asperger’s Syndrome.

This review will be short because I do not want to spoil your reading pleasure by telling you too much. I just urge you to read it—you will be the richer for having done so, as this book portrays an awareness and insight into life with Asperger’s that is way beyond even the most erudite of academic portraits.

This brilliant and starkly real book is Christopher’s novel, in the form of a murder mystery in which he tells us of his attempts to find the murderer of his neighbour’s dog, Wellington. The story is devastating in its humanity, its realism and its genuinely incisive understanding of a person with Asberger’s Syndrome (a form of autism). People’s reactions to Christopher’s behaviours are all portrayed from Christopher’s perspective. His insensitivity to other people and his family’s perplexed attempts to cope with his personality are shown with insight and humour steeped in compassion, love and understanding. The red food (Christopher hates yellow and brown), the primary numbers and his journey to London are masterpieces of sheer ingenuity and survival.

‘Five red cars mean that it is going to be a Super Good Day. Four yellow cars in a row mean that it is going to be a Black Day, which is a day when I don’t speak to anyone and don’t eat my lunch and Take No Risks because yellow is the colour of custard and double yellow lines and Yellow Fever which is a deadly disease.’

The reader is left fully aware of Christopher’s mathematical genius that will enable him to fulfil his ambitions for the life of a high achiever. This gem is not to be missed; it is to be enjoyed and placed beside your favourite books for always.

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, by Mark Haddon (2003). Jonathan Cape, London. €15.60- ISBN 9 780224 063784.

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