Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Written from the inside of the brain of an autistic savant, it is almost impossible to think of this as a work of fiction. Mark Haddon’s work with autistic individuals and his teaching skills have stood him in good stead. This is an amazing and touching story. The characters remain true to themselves consistently, the fictional author Christopher is fully formulated and becomes a voice for how the autistic mind differs and how outside influences affect it. The story also demonstrates how this anomaly affects families. The character of Siobhan is wonderful, she seems to have a complete grasp of how Christopher’s mind works, and how to convey to and converse with him, guiding him toward a calmness when his fears become exacerbated by his surroundings.

Autism by its very nature is obviously a specialized challenge, and yet the mind compensates in other areas, often with miraculous clarity. Aside from learning how the autistic mind works, I also learned how much a “normal” mind misses. I learned a lot from both sides in this book, the fallibility of the “normal” brain and the preciseness of the autistic brain. I also learned of the similarities, accentuated in autism but shared by everyone, especially in regard to sensory overload in the current world. There have been times when I have felt close to what Christopher feels when too much happens at once. Haddon has created a magical masterpiece with his perception and creativity. This is a wonderful book that everyone can and should read, it humanizes us all. Highly recommended.

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