Full disclosure, this was hands down the most enjoyable novel that I’ve read all semester. It was funny, emotionally investing, and at times distressing to read. It’s a novel that really isn’t afraid to push the boundaries and explore some of the darker aspects of both familial relations and raising a neurodivergent child.
The part that hit me the hardest was whenever Christopher was interacting with one of his parents and they wanted to hug him. “Christopher, let me hold your hand. Just for once. Just for me. Will you? I won’t hold it hard” (Haddon, 194). It must be very difficult for his parents holding back on contact because they know that he doesn’t like to be touched. Even with this, however, they find a way to communicate their affection that Christopher can agree upon with a “Hand-hug”.
This emotional aspect of the novel is the strongest part of the novel and it’s the redemptive portion also.
Now the portrayal of an autistic character in Christopher is probably the weakest part of this novel in that there are numerous times in the novel where I felt Christopher was acting unrealistically for a character with ASD. For one thing Christopher by his own report has an eidactic memory, able to recall in the most minute detail every day of his life. This is an unrealistic stereotype in much the same way that Rain Man’s Raymond Babbit was able to count cards with little difficulty (Greg Olear).
This novel is an extraordinarily conflicting read for me, because while I absolutely love the writing and plot of the book it has darker implications in the real world. Redeemed by showing an accessible portrayal of a family with a neurodivergent child it still monetizes upon and sets dishonest standards for ASD individuals.