Who killed Wellington, the neighborhood’s beloved poodle? That’s the question Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old autistic teen decides he must answer in Mark Haddon’s book “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” The hunt for the truth takes him on a journey full of struggles, questions and triumphs in this coming-of-age tale suitable for teens and young adults.
A Peek into Another Mind
Presented as a detective mystery, the book is told through the protagonist’s eyes, feelings and thoughts. As the reader grows more in-tune with Christopher Boone’s mind, the perception on what is socially “normal” is turned upside down. Because Christopher has Asperger’s syndrome (although this is never overtly stated in the book), he experiences difficulties with new experiences, environments and people, as well as going places alone. However, despite everything, he remains a teenager who craves, not surprisingly, independence.
In the novel, Haddon is able to use Boone as a mechanism to explain feelings everyone experiences, and he succeeds at operating on multiple levels. It’s this unique perspective (unconditionally literal and logical), paired with common ponderings, that bring the reader closer to understanding Christopher, and themselves, at the same time. Below are just a few of the many themes touched upon in the novel.
- Sadness— “Sometimes we get sad about things and we don’t like to tell other people that we are sad about them. We like to keep it a secret. Or sometimes, we are sad but we really don’t know why we are sad, so we say we aren’t sad but we really are.”
- Indecision— “But in life you have to take lots of decisions and if you don’t take decisions you would never do anything because you would spend all your time choosing between things you could do. So it is good to have a reason why you hate some things and you like others.”
- Mindfulness—“Also people think they’re not computers because they have feelings and computers don’t have feelings. But feeling are just having a picture on the screen in your head of what is going to happen tomorrow or next year, or what might have happened instead of what did happened, and if it is a happy picture they smile and if it is a sad picture they cry.”
- Life— “Mr. Jeavons said that I liked maths because it was safe. He said I liked maths because it meant solving problems, and these problems were difficult and interesting but there was always a straightforward answer at the end. And what he meant was that maths wasn’t like life because in life there are no straightforward answers at the end.”
- The Unknown—“Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to them. It’s just that scientists haven’t found the answer yet.”
- Self-worth— “And I know I can do this because I went to London on my own, and because I solved the mystery…and I was brave and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.”
Learning as a Lifelong Journey
In life, we are not only tasked with getting to know others, but ourselves as well. At Pacific Quest, we encourage these discoveries to be a part of a lifelong learning process to whole person understanding and wellness.
“Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.”