Plot: Christopher is an autistic teen living alone with his father in an English subburb. One night, while taking a walk, he discovers that someone has killed his neighbour’s dog, Wellington, with a garden fork. He makes it his mission to find out who killed Wellington even though his father does not approve of his detective work. Soon the investigation becomes much more complicated than he ever imagined and ties in with the mystery of his mother’s death.
This review is based on the audiobook read by Jeff Woodman.
I know very little about autism; I sometimes encounter autistic children in my work but the interactions are brief. So when I say that Mark Haddon has accurately and believably portrayed Christopher and the way that he views the world, I may be wrong. Haddon himself admits to not being an expert on the subject of asperger’s syndrome. But I really enjoyed Christopher’s narrative voice: he is intelligent and logical and when viewed through his eyes, his behaviour makes perfect sense. He shows us a different way to see the world. For example, he explains that he doesn’t like metaphors because they are lies. But similes are not lies because they describe things as they are, unless they are bad similes.
I have seen autistic children sympathetically portrayed in other novels but they are often pitiable figures. Not so with Christopher, he is a full realized character that I think anyone could relate to. This is a book everyone should read. To better understand a population that is often marginalized, of course, but mostly because it is a well written book full of emotion, courage and mystery.
As to my experience of audiobooks, I quite liked it. The narrator was good and I got through the recording remarkably fast considering that it was over 11 hours long. It also made me forget that I was on a stupid eliptical machine running in place. I am, however, a visual person and I have a harder time remembering things that I have only heard. I might have to listen to the book again.