I seem to be reading a lot of book about Asperger’s syndrome and autism. If you have read House Rules by Jodi Picoult, you may think this book will have nothing new to offer, but you will be pleasantly surprised.
Christopher Boone is a 15-year-old with autism. He tells the story of his discovery of the murdered dog and subsequent investigation. Christopher lives with his father, a bitter and quick-tempered man who is keeping dark secrets from his son. Unfortunately, when Christopher sets his mind to something, it is impossible to dissuade him from continuing. When his father tells him to stop investigating the dog’s death, Christopher’s logic enables him to learn the shocking truth, not only about the dog but about his parents as well.
We feel Christopher’s intensity and panic as he struggles to travel to London on his own. While several incidents are peppered with dark humor, the reader also feels sympathy and concern for the young man who is overwhelmed by stimuli and terrified by possibilities. Christopher is a mathematical genius. He needs to see and understand the order in things, whether it is a probability question or the spatial layout of a new environment, in order to reach some level of coping. Thrust into the chaotic world of the London underground (tube), Christopher is unsure who to trust and in constant fear for his own safety.
The depth into which we view Christopher’s thoughts is fascinating, especially the little mathematical sides, step-by-step reasoning, and incredibly detailed observations. The novel provides a unique experience, giving the reader insight and empathy into a complex and intense condition of the brain.
Usually books about children in similar situations feature supportive parents fighting for their child’s rights and/or doing everything possible to provide for their child’s needs. Although there is no doubt that Christopher is loved, his parents struggle with their own demons and are often unable to cope with Christopher’s condition.
At times the story will make you laugh out loud, sigh with sympathy, tense with anticipation, and pause with reflection. It’s the kind of book you can’t put down.