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

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

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 22. An unlikely detective

I actually can’t come up with any other possible prompts for this one…this book has won awards, but it’s not from my country (but maybe it’s from yours?). It wasn’t part of my original plan to complete this one so I had a tough time fitting it in. That being said, let’s jump in!

After his neighbor’s dog is killed in the middle of the night, fifteen-year-old Christopher Boone sets out to figure out who killed Wellington the poodle. As he endeavours to solve the mystery and write this book, he ends up unraveling unexpected lies that affect him and his family, completely by mistake. Christopher, in trying to find Wellington’s murderer, ends up discovering all that he is truly capable of.

I know this synopsis sounds pretty cryptic, but honestly, you’re not going to get much more by reading the back of the book! The Curious Incident is written from Christopher’s perspective, and while it’s never explicitly stated, it becomes known to the reader that Christopher lies somewhere on the autism spectrum. He’s an absolute genius who can solve complicated math problems in his head, but he also can’t look people in the face when he talks to them and firmly believes that four yellow cars in a row means he’s going to have a bad day. So when things start going south for Christopher, he doesn’t notice or interpret it the same way that the other characters, or you or I might. The things that take precedence in his head are not the same things in yours, which makes this book not only enlightening but a very interesting perspective to read this family drama from.

I’m far from the first to read and enjoy Haddon’s novel – this book has been a well-loved book club pick for almost twenty years. I’m just finally getting around to it now…being, you know, in my early 20s. And I get why: I think for many people who don’t have friends and family on the autism spectrum, this can be eye opening. I don’t think the majority of the general public understands all the intricacies of it all, and so this book, presented as a narrative rather than a list of facts, can give them a lens through which to view this experience. And it’s beautifully done, 100%. I think the only reason this book didn’t blow me out of the water was that I had this prior experience and knowledge to read it with. I grew up around a family of teachers and special education teachers. I have family on the autism spectrum. Friends, too. Once you start to “get it”, you pick up on it in different situations, and the behaviors and thought processes are less shocking to you than it was to say, the strangers in this book. Instead, you just laugh or nod your head and move on.

Even without that incredible revelation to accompany my reading experience, this is a very good book. The perspective adds that depth, but the story that Haddon unravels is a wonderful coming of age tale and yes, a good mystery. About halfway through he really had me because I was gasping as I read along. “Nooooo, he didn’t!!” ~Me at like 5pm Wednesday night. I have to hand it to him, the yarn isn’t lacking here, and the imperfect resolution to this tale is raw and honest.

While this is a short novel, I certainly think the content is worth the read. I’ll definitely be recommending it to my teacher friends if they haven’t already read it. I laughed, I commiserated, and I even teared up a bit. This is a good one.

Have an awesome week, friends.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’m back, y’all! Sorry for my hiatus last week, but sometimes you just have to let life win. I was nearly finished with Room when I had to make the call to put out my “Send help, and coffee” post, but just couldn’t get that far.

Years ago I watched the movie Room on Netflix and thought it simply amazing. The story had me crying all the way through, and when the credits rolled, my face was soaked. I had no intention on also reading the story, but when I won the Goodreads Choice sweepstakes a few years back, this was one of the books I received – and I decided to give it a shot. It’s literally been three years, but I get there eventually, okay?

Room is told from the perspective of Jack, a five year old boy in captivity. At age nineteen, “Ma” was kidnapped and held captive in a gardening shed by her abuser. Years later, Jack was born, and Room, with it’s 11’x11′ footprint and four walls, is all Jack has ever known.

After their kidnapper turns off the electric in the dead of winter for several days, Ma decides it’s time to escape. Together they craft a plan to get out, into the world, into the outside Jack can only imagine.

This story is truly beautiful in it’s relationships. It’s so inherently human, and that is most certainly its strength. The relationship between Ma and Jack is quintessential mother and son, the strongest love built on five years of no separation. Their life in the outside world, the angst, the anger, the depression, the curiosity…it’s so real and so well done.

Jack’s perspective can get…tiring. I think it’s extremely novel, very accurate, and the best perspective with which to tell this story. However, reading an entire book from the perspective of a five year old is much like spending your day in and day out with a five year old. Particularly, one who knows nothing at all of the world and has a lot of questions.

Jack’s vocabulary also brings up some questionable choices in the writing of this book. It just creates some plot loopholes: one moment, he won’t know what something is, then the next he’s using huge vocabulary words to describe the very same thing. It just occasionally had me saying, “Five year olds don’t know that word…even bright five year olds”. It took me out of the story, however briefly, and I just couldn’t fall all the way into it.

Overall, this story is fantastic. I think it’s a great one to absorb, no matter how you absorb it: be it through the movie or the book. Honestly, though, this is one of the few cases where I think I preferred the movie. It had more of an emotional effect on me to watch it rather than read and listen to it. I think the book brings up some intricacies that aren’t present in the movie, and are very important, but it just didn’t have the same impact for me. Like I said, I originally fell in love with the story as I cried my way through Brie Larson’s performance…but I didn’t cry once while reading the very same narrative.

I think this is a really touching story, and I recommend it in any capacity. Room is a beautiful story of a mother’s love, told through tragedy. I’m glad I finally took the time to knock it off my TBR…and if it’s been on yours for a while too, take this as your sign to pick it up!

I hope you all have a wonderful week, peeps!

A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria

A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I had super high hopes for A Lot Like Adiós after absolutely loving You Had Me at Hola last year. I initially resisted because the names are just, the cheesiest. I can’t even. But the story was actually wicked cute, and I was kind of obsessed with the fact that I had done enough Duolingo to actually pick up on some of the dialogue in Spanish? Is that stupid?

Gabe has spent his whole adult life trying to escape what his family thought of him. He’s worked his ass off to start his own gym in Santa Monica, and now, it’s expanding to New York: unfortunately, in his hometown. When his business partner can’t go, he has to fill in and fly out to tour property and meet with his childhood best friend, aka his new lead marketing staff…

Michelle has stuck closer to home, running her own freelance marketing business from her couch. When she gets a random email out of the blue from her childhood best friend, who abandoned her without a backward glance at age eighteen, she’s equal parts angry and intrigued. In the end, curiosity wins out – and she ends up working with Gabe on his gym’s expansion while the sparks fly and big questions about their past finally get some answers.

I’m not going to lie, this one just didn’t hit the same for me as You Had Me at Hola. I dragged myself through A Lot Like Adiós, unfortunately. I just didn’t love the characters the same way, and I don’t think they had the same ~sizzle~ that Jasmine and Ashton had. Gabe and Michelle’s friendship felt genuine, built on real trust and shared experiences, but their current-day relationship seems so reliant on their geographic proximity, instead of on their actual love.

I really related to Michelle…or I would have, at like, age 17. I loved her job, her passion, her cat… but both Michelle and Gabe had this really stunted version of emotions that feels more reminiscent of teenagers. There’s a lot of secrets and hiding emotions even from the people who care for them and they care about, like Michelle’s Primas of Power (her cousins/best friends). I tend to wonder if it was intentional, as both Michelle and Gabe really had their hearts broken by one another in their youth, and likely would’ve held onto that feeling. But, that said, it was so annoying. Can’t we just talk to each other like adults?! I felt Lyssa Kay Adams, screaming about how half the nonsense in this story wouldn’t have happened if two adults had had a reasonable conversation about expectations.

Further, and I really hope this doesn’t sound like a spoiler, I don’t like their “happy ending”. Ug, that is a spoiler. Sorry, I suck today. Anyways, Gabe and Michelle’s happy ending wasn’t my idea of a happy ending! I didn’t relate to the wants and needs of these characters in a way that made me feel good about the way things were left. Yes, I understand it was their ideal, but it certainly wasn’t my ideal, and that lack of relating bled into my love of this story… or lack thereof.

As you can see, I gave this read 3.5 stars, but I guess I’m not really recommending it? I’m writing this a few days after finishing it, and I guess I’m realizing even more that I just didn’t *love* it. Certainly not like I loved You Had Me at Hola. If you loved her debut, just skip over this one. I’ll keep giving Daria a try, but this one fell flat in my book.

A copy of A Lot Like Adiós was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It will be released September 14, 2021.

Have an awesome week friends!