Here is the first entry for the From the Stacks Reading Challenge that I am participating in. I have chosen my list of books which include this one, as well as Dragons of the Dwarven Depths (Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman), Crimes Against Nature (Robert F Kennedy), Under the Net (Iris Murdoch), and Life of Pi (Yann Martel). Kind of a random selection, but I have so many to choose from, I went with books that were gifts. I always feel bad when I get books as gifts, and then next time I see the person who gave it to me, they ask about it and I have yet to read it. This will take care of a couple of those.
I have heard so much about this book, but it took this challenge to get me to read it. After the first ten pages or so, I knew that I was going to love it. I actually had no idea what it was even about, so I had no preconceived notions whatsoever. The main character is Christopher, a fifteen-year-old autistic boy who is also a genius when it comes to math and logical thinking. He has developed ways of understanding his world that allow him to adequately function on his own, but new situations are still terrifying for him. He has no real concept of human emotions, and he lacks understanding when it comes to many types of communication. Everything is very literal for him, making most people difficult for him to comprehend. He lives with his father, who knows him very well, and he goes to a school with other special needs children, where his main teacher understands exactly how he needs to be taught. Even with his difficulties, his life works very well, until the night he finds his neighbor's dog dead in its yard. Christopher decides to become a detective like one of his heroes, Sherlock Holmes, and find out who killed Wellington (the dog did not simply die of natural causes). This investigation exposes more truths than Christopher is capable of handling, and the choices he makes to try to set his world right change his life forever.
The story is told in first-person narrative, in Christopher's voice. It is brilliant, Mark Haddon does an amazing job of putting the reader into Christopher's mind. Within the first couple of pages, I loved him, and learning about the way he thinks and perceives the world was fascinating. Christopher has worked very hard to develop ways of interacting with the world that will help him to feel safe, and when those controls fall away, seeing how he acts is frightening, because you come to fear for him and his well-being. This is a tremendous book, and shows that no matter what problems we face in our own lives, if we do our best and face the problems head on, we can do anything.