There is always the teacher in your life that you will remember for changing your life. Well for me that was a few years ago and it was then that I was recommended a few books, from those I bought the ones that interested me most. These books are “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer, and “the curious case of the dog in the night-time” by Mark Haddon. Coincidentally, they’re similarities are not limited to their unusual titles, but both have a young boy with autism as the main character. Apart from this, the experimentation of writing, and quirky characters, each author has exhibited very different styles in creating original stories that not only stand apart from other novels but also each other.
I have a very close family and one of my cousins who is now four has autism. Although I wasn’t completely educated, I was still able to familiarize with the characters and quickly found it interesting how similar and different the perspectives could be, and how it affected the story in such profound but amazing ways that I loved. However there were times where I was sceptical on the authenticity of what was written and whether the author was just “trying too hard”.
This is what I thought of these books:
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 9.5/10
One reason why you should read: “…and then I lost my “i” and my silence was complete. I started carrying blank books like this one around which I would fill with all the things I couldn’t say and that’s how it started, if I wanted help from someone, I’d write “Help”, and if something made me want to laugh I’d write “Ha ha ha!” and instead of singing in the shower I would write out the lyrics to my favourite songs, the ink would turn the water blue or red or green, and the music would run down my legs…”
The story of a young boy with autism who’s father has died in the September 11th tragedy. However none of these things are the main focus of the plot but instead of a boy searching for an answer (along with a mysterious separate plot) and how all human beings have a story, are connected, and can change each other’s lives.
I love this book and I proclaim it as my most favourite book of all time because it was the first that I actually found to be original and different from others. The refreshingly unique style and story kept me captivated from the very first to the very last page without ever feeling overdone. The ideas demonstrated are compelling and thought provoking in a way that will change your perspective on the world with touches of humour and strong emotional resonance that doesn’t require cheesy gimmicks. And although while reading you’ll know none of it can be true you’ll be wishing that there was a world out there like this.
Some may not understand what is happening and find themselves lost in the story’s unpredictable plot and plethora of characters. There is very little emphasis and focus on the actual main character and his condition although there are subtle hints embedded throughout which some may feel is insufficient but I myself found kept it from being too overwhelming. Some may also dislike it because of it is unbelievable.
Overall I fell in love with the authors style and ideas I thought unfathomable. I found something inspirational, emotion evoking and extremely fun to read. By the end he had me believing in the impossible and left me in awe.
The curious case of the dog at night-time 7/10
One reason why you should read: “Also people think they’re not computers because they have feelings and computers don’t have feelings. But feelings are just having a picture on the screen in your head of what is going to happen tomorrow or next year, or what might’ve happened instead of what did happen, and if it is a happy picture they smile and if it is a sad picture they cry.”
About a 15-year old boy who has autism and is extremely gifted. He lives with his father and his mother had died years ago. One day he finds a neighbour’s dog had been murdered and is determined to solve the mystery of who had killed it but soon finds himself stumbling upon more than he had anticipated. He soon finds himself overwhelmed as his whole life changes and the world proves to be more than he can understand.
This novel proves to be more about character and the life of the boy from his perspective. The author captures the difficulties of life in a less than normal family in fragments and you’ll be intrigued by the authors insight and perspective on the minds of children with autism. With every critical event the author hits the right notes and will have you empathizing for every character as if you were in their place. Within the story are clever elements that will keep you on your toes and have you thinking.
I found myself skimming the pages every so often or rereading portions to fully digest what I had just read but there are many things you’ll learn and it’ll change the way you think of things in mind boggling ways. At points I began to question the authenticity of what was written and felt the author was trying too hard to sell the character; at times it would no longer be of a boy with autism but a man writing about a boy with autism. Some may not enjoy the ending as there is a lack of one and even throughout the novel compelling events are cut short by the narrator, but despite this I found it more realistic and left you wanting to know more.
Overall, although there is the aspect of wanting more by the end it will not be satisfied. Your mind may wander with the organized “one thing after the other” storytelling that get’s old after a few pages and loses its spark. However, I would still consider this a worthwhile read as there are memorable fragments that leave you speechless with the author’s deep and trivial thoughts on life. It presents realism with a twist and you find yourself reading on for the sake of the characters. This novel will teach you an interesting thing or two and get you thinking.
So I hope you do seek out these books and enjoy them as much as I had :). Have you or will you read these books? What did you think?