2003. Recorded Books. 5 discs (6 hours and 15 minutes)
Read by Jeff Woodman.
From: the public library
In a nutshell:
As a teenager with autism, Christopher does not see world the way that most others do. His brain does not process and interpret other people’s expressions and tones, making communication with others fraught with anxiety. Things like crowded, noisy places upset him greatly and he reacts strongly if touched. He loves to work at math and to be alone, with his rat Toby as company.
When a neighbor’s dog is found dead with a garden fork stuck through it, however, Christopher gets out of his comfort zone to find out who killed the dog. His investigation brings about unexpected revelations.
I felt mostly ambivalent about reading this bestselling book, but when I was quickly scanning the audiobook shelf at the library, the familiarity of the title jumped out at me. I’m definitely glad I checked it out.
Christopher Boone is certainly an unusual protagonist, as he is so emotionally detached from others. He can comes across as self-absorbed and selfish and it’s hard to get used to that. Even as the story escalated, I still kept expecting Christopher to comprehend certain situations that he couldn’t, thinking why can’t he see what this person is really saying? how can he not know that this is dangerous? why doesn’t he just realize such and such? and so on.
I had ingrained expectations for a certain kind of emotional resolution, but with this character that was impossible. This is not to say I was disappointed: one of the strengths of the book lies in the way it dodges the feel-good and expected routes.
As much as I appreciated these aspects of the book, what truly sucked me in was the relationship between Christopher and his father. It is clear that his father loves Christopher, but Christopher does not seem to truly realize this, much less reciprocate in like degree. Certainly Mr. Boone is flawed but this made his often-desperate attempts to reach Christopher even more heartbreaking. This emotional intensity helped balance out some of the more unbelievable aspects, such as this one somewhat elaborate error for which Mr. Boone is responsible. (Hopefully those who have read it know which mistake I’m referring to.) The fallout of the error was gripping, even if the error and the motivation of it were harder to swallow.
Regarding the audio book experience, Jeff Woodman did an excellent job of capturing Christopher’s voice. I can still remember his cadence and it’s been a few weeks since I completed it. I knew the book had illustrations and I flipped through a print copy after finishing the audiobook, but I didn’t feel like I was missing out when I was listening to The Curious Incident. So if you’re interested in reading the book, you would be safe with either the print version or the audio-book.
What Others have Said:
The Book Lady’s Blog – “In the way that Christopher takes everything literally and approaches life with a mindset that is both incredibly concrete and remarkably abstract, we are able to see the world and social conventions through the eyes of an outsider, and we are invited to think about them in a new way. This is a tricky feat to pull off, and Haddon makes it look easy.”
Maw Books – “To be taken into the mind of an autistic child was interesting and well worth the read to try to understand the world in which an autistic child lives. I enjoy books which leave me with empathy and understanding.”
Reading Matters – “The great beauty of this lovely book is not just the narrator’s unique voice, it is Haddon’s careful balance between bleak comedy and great sadness.”
Reading with Tequila – “With the story switching gears so unexpectedly, it felt as though the book was in fact two separate stories (featuring common characters) pasted together to create a book. It felt off, like something just wasn’t fitting properly.”