Upon starting Curious Incident all I knew was that it was from the point of view of a young boy with ‘some behavioural difficulties’ suggested to be Asperger’s Syndrome. I’m not sure if this influenced me before I started the book but I imagined it to be rather difficult to follow. I think this was because from my understanding of the condition, people with Asperger’s find the world difficult to understand so it would make sense that I wouldn’t be able to make sense of the world as they saw it.
Although the narration is most definitely unlike any I have read before it still feels like a novel which I wasn’t expecting. It gives an insight as to how difficult it must be to navigate a world in which people make no sense. Christopher is 15 but he has never been past the end of the road by himself. When his next door neighbour’s dog is murdered Christopher takes it upon himself to solve the mystery and find the murderer.
From that synopsis, which is given in some form on every version of the book, you wouldn’t expect what this story is really about. I don’t want to give the game away but the mystery in this book is not the murdered dog. In many ways the mystery is people and Christopher has to do some major detective work as to why they behave the way they do. As with a lot of good mysteries the reader figures it out before the narrator and the fun comes in watching Christopher put the clues together.
I do have an issue with this book. I love the fact that people with disabilities are being represented in literature and I can only encourage more of that. But I feel as if the uncomfortable bits are slightly glossed over. Christopher talks about his humming and rocking when he isn’t coping and it is mentioned in a very light way. It doesn’t seem to convey the fear he must be feeling and the distress he is in. I wish this book had been a bit more honest it feels like a rose tinted version of living with a disability. That being said I think the wide spread success of this book can only help in getting people to talk and think about disabilities in a way they might never have previously.
There are some rather memorable parts of this book such as Christopher’s inclusion of diagrams the better to help the reader’s understanding, his use of prime numbers to number the chapters and the fact he explains the things he doesn’t understand to us as if we don’t understand them as well. These elements are so original that I understand why this book won awards. Haddon uses the established convention of a book as an example of the things the able bodied take for granted as comprehensible.
If you wanted any more indication that this is a great book, Parents in Texas have banned it from High School Libraries.
Would recommend to: everyone, especially if you are a high school student in Texas.