Anne Cassidy on the only book where Maths ‘A’ level saves someone’s life…
Christopher John Francis Boone leapt off the page when I started reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. I felt as if this boy was sitting beside me, telling me his story in his flat, literal way. It was an unreliable narrative though and I had to look beyond his deadpan words and piece together the dramatic events of the book. His parents driven to distraction by the strain of looking after him. His mother leaving and his father saying she was dead. The bafflement of the public who come into contact with him. The lurking danger of the knife in his pocket.
I admire the construction of this character. Christopher has a truly unique voice which reminds me of The Catcher in the Rye. He is comfortable with numbers but not with emotions. Food must not touch other food on his plate. Certain colours will cause an upset. He cannot bear physical contact.
I don’t know if this is an accurate perspective of a boy with Asperger’s. Can anyone really know? I do know that through Christopher’s eyes I see a different view of my world; ordered, timetabled, mapped out. When his family life collapses his parents seem like lost children teetering on the brink of disaster. The normal world of buses and trains and helpful policemen seems chaotic and perilous.
And this is the only book I know where someone’s life is saved by taking a Maths ‘A’ Level. Brilliant.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon is published by Red Fox Definitions (0 09 945676 1, £6.99 pbk). Anne Cassidy’s latest book is Looking for JJ (Scholastic, 0 439 97717 7, £5.99 pbk).