The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

“Metaphors are lies.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 268 pages.
Read from November 6, 2017 to November 8, 2017.

This is one of those books that has been on my to-read list for an embarrassingly long time. It isn’t that I wasn’t excited to read it, it was just that I missed the hype on this book right after it was published so I moved on to other books instead. It had been on my to-read shelf so long that I feel as if I had already read it!

Did you know?

The title of this book quotes the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1892 short story “Silver Blaze.”

Christopher is a fifteen-year-old boy who understands the world through math as it is the only thing that makes sense to him. Emotions and expressions are a mystery to him so it is hard for him to meet new people and make sense of the world. Christopher is brilliant in mathematics and logic but his behavioural issues mean that he spends his time in a special school. Christopher lives with his father, Ed, as he has been told his mother passed away two years ago. Christopher’s adventures begin when he finds his neighbour’s dog stabbed with a pitchfork. Determined to figure out who committed the act Christoper begins writing everything down in an effort to find the murderer. As Christopher’s murder mystery unfolds, he will learn some fragile and mysterious things about the people around him which take him on an adventure he never would have anticipated.

Did you know?

This book was first published simultaneously in separate editions for adults and children in 2003.

I was shocked to read some of the hateful reviews of this book as many people could not tolerate the style of writing the author used. The book is written in Christopher’s voice and personality, so the verbiage is blunt as Christopher tries to explain situations as he sees them. This included diagrams and random banters about math which result in unintended philosophical rants on life. This unique perspective offered by Christopher is the whole point of the novel. It is meant to allow the reader to purposely see and appreciate the point of view of someone else.  Haddon even says so himself,

“Curious Incident is not a book about Asperger’s. It’s a novel whose central character describes himself as ‘a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties’. Indeed he never uses the words ‘Asperger’s’ or ‘autism’ (I slightly regret that fact that the word ‘Asperger’s’ was used on the cover). If anything it’s a novel about difference, about being an outsider, about seeing the world in a surprising and revealing way. It’s as much a novel about us as it is about Christopher.”- Mark Haddon

I personally, really appreciated the style and its ability to reach out to both a youth and adult audience. Even if I could not understand or appreciate some of the choices that Christopher and his family made I can see the logic in them. Christopher’s parents were the most dynamic characters in the book and Haddon does a great job of depicting them with depth even with Christopher’s limited emotional narrative. Despite the darkness and tone of some parts of this book, the happy ending is extremely satisfying.

Did you know?

The book uses prime numbers to number the chapters.

The most intriguing bit of this book is the exploration of human emotion. It makes you analyze the importance it plays in our personal and social lives and how it drives or destroys it. In a way, it would be nice if things were cut and dry the way that Christopher sees things but at the same time, it would be overwhelming and distressing because nothing else in life works that way.

Did you know?

The story was adapted onto the stage in 2012 and the rights for a movie were purchased in 2011 but it has not yet been produced.

I would say that this book is worthy of the hype it has received. It is unique and different and received accolades for its insight, but as with anything different, there are always haters. If you are looking to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and immerse yourself in a whole new world than this little murder-mystery is right for you.


Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Curious_Incident_of_the_Dog_in_the_Night-Time

http://www.markhaddon.com/aspergers-and-autism

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

Whether you loved or hated Anne of Green Gables, Emily is the superior Heroine.

“If you’ve brains it’s better than beauty – brains last, beauty doesn’t.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 417 pages.
Read from July 7, 2017 to July 14, 2017.

This book was first published in 1923 and has never been out of print since. How’s that for a legacy! Montgomery was also writing and publishing before women even had the right to vote and her writing has been inspiring young women for nearly 100 years.

I had the second book in this trilogy on my shelf growing up but because I was a nerd and wanted to read things in order and so I never actually got around to reading this book as a tween. A shame really, as I am certain I would have been obsessed with Emily.  As someone who is indifferent to the story of Anne of Green Gables, reading this book was initially out of duty to the fact that it sat neglected on my bookshelf for decades.

Emily is just a young child when she is sent to live with her mother’s relatives of whom she has never met.  Her mother passed away from consumption years earlier and her father has now just passed. Having learned that her mother eloped with her father, her mother’s side of the family, the Murray’s, were keen to keep that disgrace away from the family name but knew that they must take care of the child out of duty. Nobody wanted poor Emily. After some reluctant decisions (and being forced to part with one of her cats), Emily was sent to live with her stern Aunt Elizabeth in New Moon.

Emily learns that her mother’s side of the family is fairly well off and that the family is well respected in the area. However, even if humble, Emily misses her home and her father. She makes friends with her cousin Jimmy, the first of the Murray clan to be kind to her, as well as with their neighbour Teddy, Isle unforgettably fierce tomboy, and the young boy that helps out on the Murray plot, Perry. Stubborn, serious and imaginative, Emily slowly adjusts to her new way of life at New Moon and even comes to like it, but her strong-will continuously gets her trouble with her Aunt and family. Emily wonders if she will ever feel accepted, loved or appreciated in her new home, especially with her growing talent and desire to write.

You know why this book is awesome? Because Emily is smart, fierce, ambitious, thoughtful and imaginative. She also has thirst for knowledge, is a loyal friend, and has an intense appreciation for nature. Whether in 1923 or the present, girls need great characters like Emily to let them know that anything is possible. What makes Emily a better heroine than Anne is that Emily is by far less dramatic and a bit more complex. She is more serious and considerate than Anne and is able to work through troubling situations with a bit more grace. Emily and the plot, in general, have a darker tone than Anne of Green Gables but it is still whimsical and playful.

I loved Emily. If I had read this book as a tween I would have sworn that I was Emily; serious, stubborn, loves cats, imaginative and a passion for writing at a young age. It was the connection with Emily that made me enjoy her story more than Anne’s and also made me want to pursue reading the whole trilogy of her books, something that I do not do often.

“The universe is full of love and spring comes everywhere.”

So while this book had similar features to Anne of Green Gables, this story felt more successful. Emily is dynamic and while she has similar personality features to Anne there is more depth to the story of Emily and a realism that is not matched in Anne of Green Gables. Emily’s story is written 15 years after the publication of Anne’s and it is clear that Montgomery improved her writing during that time.

Whether you loved or hated Anne of Green Gables, both are valid feelings and reasons to read this book and enjoy its amazing characters and story.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

“Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 333 pages.
Read from June 13, 2017 to June 19, 2017.

Don’t ask me how I did not manage to read this book when I was a child. Most Canadian girls have read this yet some how it alluded me. However, I am glad I read this book as an adult as I do not think I would have appreciated it in my youth.

Anne’s young life has been a trying one. She has spent the last few years in an orphanage after both of her parents passed away. Despite the fact that they specifically wanted a boy, Anne is temporarily taken in by Matthew and Marilla Cuthburt who live in the Green Gables house on Prince Edward Island. Anne must then convince the couple that she is worth keeping. The problem being that Anne is wildly imaginative, talkative, and has a temper that is as fiery as her flame-red hair. Matthew instantly takes a liking Anne, despite him normally being shy and reserved, but Marilla however, will take more convincing. Anne wants nothing more than to be loved after feeling unwanted and abandoned for so long but can she still be herself and convince the Cuthburt’s that she worthy of their home?

“I’ve just been imagining that it was really me you wanted after all and that I was to stay here for ever and ever. It was a great comfort while it lasted. But the worst of imagining things is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts.”

Anne has a wonderful imagination. That was by far my favourite aspect of the book, however I found Anne to be so damn dramatic that it was borderline annoying. While I appreciate how brave and ballsy she can be at times, which I would have adored in my youth, her dramatics would have also likely put me off the book. For example:

  • “I can’t cheer up — I don’t want to cheer up. It’s nicer to be miserable!”
  • “I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when
    you are in the depths of despair?”

However, you have to give it to Anne, she is unique through and through and her story is fun and adventurous. Montgomery’s writing style is lovely as well. She mixes chapters that have a third person narrator to direct first person accounts from Anne’s diary (spelling mistakes and all). It is easy to see how this book became so acclaimed and how it wormed its way into the hearts of so many readers.

While I enjoyed the book and all of Anne’s little adventures, I do not feel inclined to read the rest of the book in the trilogy as I did not connect with Anne’s character as much as I was hoping to. However, the Canadian setting was gorgeously depicted and I can’t fault any details of the plot line as the book kept me highly engaged. Overall I would recommend this book for any young girl of reading age or for any Canadian who has yet to read this timeless classic.