Since I didn’t do a book review last week, I’ll review two books that I’ve read recently–and they are, incidentally, about the same subject material, so that worked out nicely.
No one in my immediate family, nor in my circle of friends or their families, has autism, so I admit my knowledge of it is limited. All I know I learned from a very awesome writing teacher who has OCD whose son has autism–not in the extreme, except in his aversion to touch, like Christopher.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Mark Haddon’s book is told from the perspective of a fifteen year old kid named Christopher, who lives with his dad. The neighbor’s dog is killed, and Christopher–who loves mystery novels, particularly Sherlock Holmes–decides to solve the mystery. Like I said, I don’t know a lot about autism, but this portrayal seemed pretty accurate. He hates the color yellow and is really good at math and science (sometimes, he gets distracted and goes into math equations or puzzles and I’m just like . . . dude, ow). But the mystery is but the superficial framework, a faint story line for the reader to follow, when what the novel really wants is for Christopher to be discovered, and his slightly heart-breaking family life. This is a quick read–Christopher’s one-track mind makes him something of a minimalist, like Hemingway. It’s thought-provoking at its best and entertaining at its worst.
Marcelo Sandoval is not Christopher, and while both have different degrees of autistic tendencies, Marcelo functions in society with a vague idea that he is weird and different than everyone else.
Marcelo has an autism spectrum mental issue that doctors have been unable to identify. Since first grade he has attended a special education school, but when he is seventeen his father tells him that he must work in his father’s law firm for the summer. At the end of the summer, if he has succeeded “in the real world”, his father will permit him to choose whether to return to the special education school, or attend the regular high school for his senior year.
Fransisco X. Stork (and there is little that I do not love about this author’s name; I keep wondering, what does the X stand for? or does it stand for nothing, like, you can fill in the X with any number of catchy “wait-for-it” middle euphemisms?) is a good writer, and Marcelo’s autism is not so heavy handed as with The Curious Incident . . . and the novel has room to explore the definition of the “real world” and religion. I find it interesting that both stories explore the father-son relationship with an autistic child.
Both good books. Of the two, I liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time better, but still . . . I learned a lot, and enjoyed each book.