Does A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon sound familiar? It should. Dreaded by some, loved by bookworms, and required by all, this was summer 2014’s all-school reading book.
This year, the math department decided on a short novel of a little over 200 pages, including illustrations. In addition to the change in length, Haddon’s novel was fictional instead of the historical accounts that served as past summer reading books.
“This year’s read was far more emotional and difficult to understand, despite its short length,” Shreya Bajpai ’15 said. “It was different to read a book written in such an informal style because we are so accustomed to summer reading books being classics with hundreds of pages of detailed explanation, philosophical facets, and exuberant language, that I was thrown off after a couple of pages. I’m not sure where this one ranks because it’s so different from the novels we normally read.”
Haddon created a complex protagonist in Christopher Boone, an autistic teenager dealing with all the curve-balls life throws his way including writing a murder mystery novel of his own, finding out shocking family secrets, and learning to take care of himself.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction to the book, even though our narrator, Christopher Boone ‘can’t tell jokes;’ he is unintentionally funny,” Bajpai said. “He says things no one imagines saying; His filter is completely off, which makes the novel a raw read.”
“It set a certain mood, like I was inside the boy’s head,” said Alex Shpylko ’17. “It was somewhat alarming, perhaps. After about half of the book I could already guess some of the choices that Christopher was going to make.”
Rana Said ’16 said, “I wasn’t a fan of the book the first few chapters, but I did enjoy it further. It gives you an insight into how a kid with [Christopher’s] condition deals with life.”
Namita Thomas ’16 agreed when she said, “[The book] gave me more insight into how a person with autism thinks, and it was different from how I perceived it to be.”
Students also enjoyed the diagrams such as the chess-like game and the strategy of finding the railway station. This, combined with the book’s style, was refreshing and an enjoyable read for many.
“I think the pictures were the most important aspect of Haddon’s writing style because they allowed us to see the world through Christopher’s eyes and feel what he was feeling,” Bajpai said. “The pictures were an excellent choice to convey the thoughts of a young, confused teenager with autism.”
Namita Thomas, when asked about her initial reaction versus her end reaction, said, “I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I first got the book from looking at the cover, but once I started the book I wanted to continue reading it. I think this was a great choice for the math department this year, especially since a lot of people were wondering what kind of math related books they could find. I was pleasantly surprised along with many other people!”