By: Alyssa Murphree, March 29, 2017
I may not have picked this book up in a while, but the copy sitting atop my dresser looks back at me daily and is a constant reminder of how much I truly love this story. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is a young adult mystery novel about 15-year-old Christopher Boone, who upon being falsely accused of murdering his neighbor’s dog, sets out to solve the mystery surrounding his death. This book is a very short read, but it is so full of wonder, inspiration, and innocent humor despite its length, and aside from the fact that it is already a national bestseller, I highly recommend it.
Maybe it’s because we’re both INTPs, but I truly do have the greatest affinity for the character of Christopher. Although it is not directly mentioned in the book, it is implied through his behavior that he is somewhere on the autism spectrum. Christopher has such a unique perspective on life because of his quirks, but especially because of his love of math and numbers. He may not be able to understand social norms like the average person, but his intricate, logic-based way of thinking by means of schedules, maps, and math equations is what drives him to step far outside of his comfort zone in order to solve the mystery.
When Christopher accidentally uncovers a family secret in his search for answers surrounding the death of the dog, the story takes a sharp turn toward the unexpected. The entire time I’m reading this novel, I just want the best for this kid. Even though he may be a difficult person to manage, there really is nothing unlikable about him. You want him to succeed. As he encounters challenging scenarios such as navigating train stations and evading the police, you want so badly to tell him the right way to do it. But Christopher has his own way, which may be a little messy, but ultimately gets the job done.
The first-person narrative of the novel allows us to learn even more about Christopher and his life in the past and present. We find out about him losing his mother at a young age, his dislike of certain colors and human touch, and the bond he shares with his teacher at school. This narrative also has us further intrigued in his journey. Despite the things that Christopher is unable to do, the story never dwells on that aspect and instead focuses on the “cans” rather than the “cannots”.
It’s a triumphant story with a charming main character and it’s no surprise to me why it is so critically acclaimed. The novel has even been adapted to a play which ran on Broadway and is currently touring. To be fair, I must admit that I saw the play on Broadway before reading the book, but I do not believe doing one first will take away from the other. Overall, I believe that this novel teaches us to recognize our own strengths and at the end of the day, be our own hero. We should be inspired by Christopher, as he is by Sherlock Holmes.