He has not only written as Christopher, but has also been able to dive deep into the psyche of a child and come up with unthinkable thoughts. How kids form mind maps so as not to forget people and places and how kids have limited amount of understanding (call it ‘data processing’) and when there is an overflow of information it gets nauseating (call it ‘system hang’). These are some of the things that is very well explained.
You can relate to the child instantly, as he starts writing down a book about how his
neighbour’s dog, Wellington, was found dead. Christopher loved the dog and he takes it upon himself to find out who killed it. Not for a single second does he think that the dog could have died accidently. And that’s because his thinking faculties provides the reasoning that it had to be a murder.
Haddon’s child-like approach towards many everyday things, like policemen, overcrowded places, people being too nice all of a sudden, are exceptional. Christopher’s fascination towards science and maths is very well justified by his knowledge of the subject and that he sits for A-level exams. So, nothing in the book is mentioned for the heck of it. Every mean has its end, and its not like the end justifies the means.
As we go along with Christopehr’s adventure of finding the killer of the dog, we soon realise that the dog is just a tool to take us through the various facets of Christopehr’s lonely childhood. It no longer remains about the dog, but his inner helpless self that worries the readers. When Christopher gets chatting with Mrs.Alexander or when he walks around the gardens of Mrs.Shear, we realise his innocence. But his innocence is not his undoing, its his inquisitiveness that keeps you interested.
Christopher’s running away from home, for a minute took me back to ‘Catcher In The Rye’. But it does not follow that path, thankfully. Unlike CITR, where the protagonist was lost and was out there searching for something he could identify with, Christopher’s struggle is more of a child who wants to be happy, but not without his grades and his parents.
The book is an extraordinary in more ways than one. It tells how and why kids are afraid to approach strangers or how they could consider their own parents to be a threat to their existence. It touches upon topics of life and death, marriage and separation, studies and playfulness; and despite all this the book doesn’t get childish for a single moment.
It had been really long since I read a book, so I did think that it would take me more than couple of sittings to finish the book. But clearly, I was wrong. I read the entire book in a single sitting of 3 hours. Its a book that’s not to be missed. And please don’t read it as a children’s fiction, read it with some seriousness because there is a lot of learning for parents in it too. As I earlier said, its about a child, written like a child but its not childish!