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lizbee [userpic]
Well, my face is red.
by lizbee (lizbee)
at April 11th, 2007 (08:14 pm)

I was ... less than enthused at the prospect of reading this book. Like the protagonist, my sister has Asperger's syndrome, and a friend online acquaintance with a sibling in the same boat had described the book as an unsympathetic and unfair depiction of Aspergers-relatives.

I picked up the book from the library this morning; started it at ten-thirty (having finished Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the doctor's waiting room) and closed the book at three-forty-five this afternoon. I'd have read it faster, had I not had appointments and a fifty minute bus trip.

Since I have an attention span of about twenty-two minutes, that's quite brilliant.

I didn't find the portrayal of Christopher's family particularly fraught or unrealistic. They were well-drawn characters, not caricatures.

Christopher himself, on the other hand, I found a lot more problematic. It's only in the blurb that he's described as having Asperger's, and his behaviour in the book suggests a person who's a lot closer to the full-austism part of the scale. At the same time, though, he seemed far too self-aware to be convincingly autistic. It was a confusing blend. My sister, for example, although she's a very high-functioning Asperger's child, is completely incapable of articulating her motivations or desires beyond a shrug and a mumble of, "I wanted to." Poking around the net, I found this review making a similar argument.

Okay, that's all out of the way. What else? I found the resolution of the dog-mystery rather ... unconvincing. Or at least, I could see all the pieces in their places, but I couldn't quite picture how they came together.

The domestic mystery, however, was engrossing. And despite my problems with the portrayal of autism, I found Christopher compelling. Have to confess that I skimmed all the maths and logic problems, though.

One final note. This book is usually marketed as adult literary fiction, that special genre for wanky novels with no narrative drive and self-absorbed, tedious characters proper novels. But a close look at the title page revealed that it's actually published as YA fiction -- which explains some of the simplicity in the plot.


Posted by: i can make it on my own! (lydaclunas)
Posted at: April 12th, 2007 02:04 am (UTC)

I finished it in roughly the same amount of time that you did. I found it a quick, compelling read.

Agreed that Christopher is problematic when it comes to the portrayal of autism. As a true-to-life depiction of the autistic experience... not so much. As an interesting coming of age story? Quite successful. The POV is a nice twist on the usual boy's coming of age tale. More on that in another post.

Interesting detail about the YA fiction. That makes tons of sense, in retrospect.

Posted by: a Job's muffler (hedda62)
Posted at: April 17th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
boy and boat

I also read it quickly (today!) and found it surprisingly unputdownable. I'll have to absorb the text and your review a bit and then try to post something.

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