I just finished reading “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon. Although not expressly stated, it is thought that the book is narrated by a young boy with Asperger’s, despite the writer himself has said that: “Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger’s..”.
Christopher is a 15 year old boy who loves nature shows, his math formulas and his pet rat Toby (BLAAARGH get it off me). Readers may look at this book as an insight to the spectrum, as what the world looks like when you live with Aspergers. But, like the writer, I don’t think that’s what the book is for, I don’t think the writer intended his book to be the shining light on Aspergers. He, like all of us, is not an expert on the spectrum and he doesn’t claim to be.
In fact, I think this book is about the rest of the world. If we could simplify the world, Christopher would be the spectrum, his parents would be all parents of the spectrum, Siobhan (his teacher) would be the wider community, Ms Alexander (the neighbour) would be the kind stranger, Mrs Spears would be the conservative trying to understand, Mr Spears would be the ones that don’t want to understand.
This is not an Aspergers or Autism handbook. In fact the ‘traits’ presented by Christopher are very stereotypical. His behaviour was a tool used to facilitate the different viewpoint from which it is written. When, or if, you read this book look at it as the beautiful story that it is; it’s just a boy living his day-to-day life, taking his A-levels, caring for his surroundings, daring the impossible, being scared of the familiar, and forgiveness.
This story captures the innocence of childhood that is lost in the world we live in today. The passion for being truthful and the risks we refuse to take for fear of being uncomfortable. Christopher – the community – can teach us so much. He is uncompromising in his pursuit for peace and enjoyment, unhindered by public opinion, fearless in speaking the truth just like our spectrum community; just like my Christo.
Our kids are an example to live by because they just live – they don’t live up to, live for, or live by. They just live.
When I was reading the book I connected to Christopher immediately. He says in the first couple of pages that this isn’t a funny story, yet I found myself giggling on the train because he reminded me of Christo, because there were so many little things that I can imagine Christo telling me if he could. It was like reading an inside joke. Every time Christopher rationalised, I laughed at myself for not seeing things so clearly before.
This book is about acceptance, strength, curiosity and most of all perspective. This character, who has been put in the Asperger box, will break free and defy all your preconceived notions. Christopher will make you laugh, care, fear. He will teach you about formulas and he will keep you on your feet.
I read this book on the train from Edinburgh to London (5hrs) and the only bad thing about it was that it ended.
If you’ve ever thought that something is impossible, that people cannot break barriers, habits, ideas, this book will prove you wrong.