ISBN 9780099450252 (0099450259)
This is brilliant. I have just finished reading it cover to cover and I encourage people to read it, now!
Without wanting to give away any of the story, Christopher is a fifteen year old who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He discovers a neighbour’s dog dead in the early hours of one morning and sets out to discover the murderer. He embarks on an amazing adventure of discovery.
This is made even more amazing by the fact that Christopher is brilliant at maths but has little idea about people’s feelings. He needs everything to be ordered and he cannot cope with crowds. Haddon helps you to get inside Christopher’s brain and to empathise with him. I don’t know how true to real life this portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome is, but it is extremely well written.
There is also much in the story for spiritual reflection: Christopher notices absolutely everything in minute detail and has what appears to be a photographic memory. He is absolutely present to every moment (and sometimes he just cannot cope with the amount of data). His teacher tries to explain to him how most of us just notice one or two things then worry about the possibilities. There is a strong strand within Christian spirituality (see, for example, the Desert Fathers, Saint Benedict, Thomas Merton, and Anthony de Mello) — as well as Buddhism — about recollection and being present and aware of this particular moment. How difficult we find it!
This is a story that can cause the reader to reflect on how they see things, what they remember, and how they cope with other people. The brief encounters with the Reverend Peters also provide pause for thought!
Sue Groom, June 2004
The Revd Sue Groom is Assistant Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Priest in Charge of Henlow & Langford in the Diocese of St Albans. Before this she served in various roles in the Diocese of London, including five years as Vicar of St Matthew’s, Yiewsley. She is the author of Linguistic Analysis of Biblical Hebrew (Paternoster Press, 2003).