Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: Mark Haddon
Find it on GoodReads

What This Book is About

With such a unique name for a book, there must be a unique story that lies behind it, right?  That is certainly the case here, as the reader follows a fifteen-year-old named Christopher John Francis Boone.  Christopher discovers that Wellington, the neighbor’s dog, was killed and his plan to solve the crime. As Christopher works to solve the mystery surrounding the murder, you learn more about his family, his town, his neighbors, and the world around him.

Although the book does not come out and directly speak to Christopher’s condition, it is believed to be Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, or savant syndrome.  According to Wikipedia, Haddon once wrote on his blog that “Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger’s… if anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way.

What I Liked About It

I initially made the mistake of reading too many reviews about the book as I was getting started with it.  If you are reading this, make sure this is the only review that you read about the book. I felt like I was on the journey with Christopher and while at times his thoughts tended to take a totally different path than I would have, I enjoyed that part of the story.

I also found myself wanting some type of explanation.  I wanted to know what he had been diagnosed with.  It was as if I was only comfortable once there was a label applied to Christopher as if that suddenly made sense of everything.  Embarrassing as it is to admit, it took me a while to realize that I was searching for something that I did not need an answer to.  The diagnosis is not the most important part of the story.  Even Haddon himself stated that in an interview when he said, “because I don’t want him to be labeled, and because, as with most people who have a disability, I don’t think it’s necessarily the most important thing about him.”

When I focused on the story and how Christopher’s mind navigated through it, the book was even better.

Why It is Relevant to Your Ministry

This is a fantastic book because of the perspective from which it is written.  You are not merely shown Christopher’s world, but you experience it as he does.  Decisions are made as he would make them, following his thought process and line of reasoning, which might differ from what you would expect. And while this is certainly not a faith-based book, it is well worth adding to your library.

The perspective of the book, I believe, is the most important aspect of this book.  I also believe that the author would agree and that was his primary intent when writing it.  As you serve in your disability ministry you will encounter a wide array of needs.  While every single person and diagnosis is different, you will most certainly find yourself at some point thinking “I just wish I knew what they were thinking.”  Curious Incident is not a blanket statement covering every person with a similar diagnosis, but it can offer a different look into a unique mind and how that thought process leads to specific decisions. This perspective can be key, especially for new volunteers

Who Should Read This

  • General awareness
  • Great for new volunteers
  • Those who work with young adults on the Autism spectrum

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