Before reading this book, I had been under the impression that it was a children’s book. However, such impressions were quickly dispelled. What we have, instead, is a book that has been expertly written from the first person perspective of an autistic teenager. It was quite different from anything I have read before, and it is clear to see why it has won such acclaim.
The writing style fits perfectly the subject matter, and the reader is made to see the world through the eyes of this young boy, Christopher Boone. So what we have is a very honest and believable account of a boy who struggles to understand the foibles and deceits of others.
The book is instigated by the death of a neighbour’s dog, stabbed with a garden fork. Christopher decides to find out who did it, which involves talking to various neighbours and attempting to understand motives. Because the book is written from his point of view, we are made to see things in fairly stark contrasts, which I think is Haddon’s way of demonstrating what a peculiar and sometimes deceitful world we live in.
In spite of the page count, the book only took me 2 days’ worth of commuting to finish, as it is in fairly large print with wide margins, and is punctuated with quite a few diagrams and pictures. This makes it readily accessible to a wide audience and is eminently enjoyable, as well as heart-wrenching in places. Haddon’s use of an autistic viewpoint is his way of using an argument of reductio ad absurdum to point an accusing finger at everyday dishonesty, especially that of parents.