I was scrolling through Facebook or Twitter or some social media site when I came across a link to a list of books that promised to change my life. I had already read some on the list, while others were in my "to be read" pile at home. One, interestingly enough, I had just purchased at our school's book fair, on the recommendations of a couple of teacher friends. The title was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon. It sounded like it would combine two things I find interesting: issues with autism and related brain disorders and murder mysteries. So I moved it to the top of the pile. I am glad that I did.
There is a murder mystery to be solved, though not your usual type. The book opens with a young man named CHRISTOPHER BOONE discovering the body of a neighbor's dog, which has been gruesomely murdered with a gardening fork. Christopher seems to be a savant of some kind, with a sharply analytical mind that is almost computer-like in its precision, but struggles with integrating into, or even understanding, society. For instance, he is positively phobic about being touched, to the point that he punches a policeman who has come to investigate after the owner mistakenly assumes Christopher has killed her dog.
Christopher, over his father's objections, decides he is going to solve the mystery of the dog's killing. In doing so, he accidentally uncovers several pieces of information that completely change his view of both the world and his family. These discoveries force him into a long, terrifying trip across England in search of his mother.
The story in itself may not seem that compelling if it weren't for the fact that the whole thing is narrated by Christopher, who sees the world in a completely different way than would be considered "normal." Things that seem completely innocuous to most people are mind-numbingly frightening to him. Just the comparatively simple process of buying a train ticket and then riding on the train take every ounce of his resolve. Conversely, the young man is genius level in math and science and has a photographic memory. He sees patterns in nature that the average person just can't see. He ultimately finds that this is both his curse and his greatest blessing.
Seeing the world through the unique lens of Christopher Boone's mind is both entertaining and enlightening. I don't know if the book changed my life cataclysmically, but it definitely enriched my view of the world and of the people with whom I share it. I highly recommended this book. If you're interested in purchasing it, it is available from Amazon.