Best of: books for ages 14-18 #3: ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time’ by Mark Haddon
This 2003 novel was a huge hit immediately on its publication, and won a number of prizes, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Whitbread Book Award. Narrated by 15-year-old Christopher, the book is unusual in that it was marketed simultaneously to both adults and young people.
Stylistically, the book is particularly engaging – its narrator is a teenager with a high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder which causes him to engage with the world in an unusual way. Sometimes funny, the novel helps us understand the way our experiences of the world are shaped not just by our senses, but by our frames of references.
With some adult themes and a lot of swearing, the ‘Curious Incident’ is better kept for those well and truly settled in secondary school. The swearing, however, is necessary to the story, as Christopher accurately represents the speech of those around him, who find themselves frequently exasperated enough to curse in his presence.
Funny and moving, but most of all interesting, this is a must-read book for anyone interested in perspectives on reality.
By the same author: ‘A Spot of Bother’ for adults, as well as a range of books for children, including the ‘Agent Z’ series.