Mark Haddon's 2003 novel "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" is difficult to assign to a category. Although some see it as a story for youth, the strong language causes me to question whether this is a suitable book for children. Some view it as a mystery, but the clues presented are not as foolproof as a traditional detective story.
Christopher Boone, a bright 15-year-old boy in Swindon, England, narrates the book. The first-person narration gives us a look into Christopher's thought processing. Although Christopher possesses a remarkable mind, he has emotional issues that suggest he may be on the autism spectrum. He takes everything literally; he cannot stand to be touched; he is incapable of lying; and he obsesses over colors and prime numbers. In fact, the chapters of "Curious" are all prime numbers, rather than the traditional ordinal numbers. Additionally, his handicap prevents him from filtering excessive stimuli or applying intuition. But he possesses a photographic memory and a gift for using logic and reason in every situation.
Christopher has lived alone with his volatile father, Ed, since Ed came home two years ago and informed him that the boy's mother died of a heart attack in hospital.
One day, Christopher discovers the body of his neighbor's dog, Wellington, stabbed to death by a gardening fork. Christopher sets out to find the killer. When Ed learns that Christopher has been bothering the neighbors, he insists that the boy stop meddling in other people's business.
As the story progresses, we learn more about Christopher, his family, and some of the lies told to Christopher and the reader.
As someone recently hurt by the lies of someone close, this story resonated strongly. Like Christopher, I trust people until they demonstrate they do not deserve that trust. Like Christopher, the pain feels like a betrayal when people break that trust.
This book is filled with anxiety and frustration and heartache and humor and hope - much like life.