Wonderful reading experience. Unlike any other book that I have ever read (probably the closest is "Flowers for Algernon") At the beginning of the boo...moreWonderful reading experience. Unlike any other book that I have ever read (probably the closest is "Flowers for Algernon") At the beginning of the book, Christopher, the fifteen year old narrator states that "This is a murder mystery", and he is going to be detective, investigating who killed his neighbor's poodle, Wellington. While he is trying to solve the mystery he uncovers many other secrets about his family. Haddon's use of pictures, charts, and graphs really help the reader understand and see through the eyes of Christopher, who has Asperger's disorder or autism (it is never clearly stated). The reader really sympathizes with Christopher's parents and all of the idiosyncrasies he has: He hates the colors yellow and brown and will not eat any food that color, or wear any clothes with them; he has a fear of people touching him, and often screams when someone lightly brushes him. There are many other instances in the book where the reader sees that Christopher does love his parents, but he cannot show them because he does not know how to express emotions. (less)
I read this one not long after it came out - it was borrowed on a staff loan project from the book store that I worked in at the time - so that was pr...moreI read this one not long after it came out - it was borrowed on a staff loan project from the book store that I worked in at the time - so that was probably 2003. I could not put it down and did one of my marathon reading sessions: stayed up all night and part of the next day. Reading it so fast was bad for the memory, however... so, I am happy that one of my book clubs chose this as the next selection. I will probably get it on audio. So, review to come!(less)
*Sigh* I read this book in 2008 when the hype was at the highest point, and while I did enjoy parts of it, I could not get past the author's tone. The...more*Sigh* I read this book in 2008 when the hype was at the highest point, and while I did enjoy parts of it, I could not get past the author's tone. The first few chapters were so hard for me to stomach. Yes, she was going through a divorce and it was sad and painful... but she acted/wrote like her experience was so absolutely unique. In a country where divorce rates are sky high, it was just hard for me to feel such pangs of sympathy (as she was wallowing on the floor of the bathroom...) The split seemed to be agreed upon in pretty certain terms... I guess that just sort of set the stage for me.
Also had a few hangups along the way regarding some of her thoughts. Couldn't get past the air of "fake it till you make it" qualities in the book. That being said, I liked the travels in India and Indonesia best. Italy seemed way too self-indulgent for my tastes, but I guess that was sort of the point: Excess, young lover, and loads of pasta. India was easier for me to relate to personally, and I liked her thoughts and stories about her meditation, and her work at the ashram. When she went to Indonesia, I enjoyed hearing the stories of her travels around the island, and the teachings of her friend/guru.
...I think that one of the most interesting/revealing things I learned about this author and this book came from a friend of mine when we were talking about the book a few months after I read it. My friend related the experience of traveling to hear the author speak at a local book store for a signing event. She was excited to talk to her and asked her how her meditation practice has evolved since her time at the ashram, described in the book. Gilbert replied: "Oh, I don't have time for that anymore."
That little quote summed it up for me. She picked up, made her checklist of places to be and things to do, traveled, made her money with the memoir, and moved on to her next thing. In this way, it all felt like a set-up. She just did all of this in order to relate her experience in book form. Of course, I do not know what is in her heart or her mind, but it just left an impression on me. It was as if nothing she learned truly "stuck". I guess I was just left wondering what her friends at ashram would think - they were merely characters in the very dramatic play. (less)