Jul 28, 12
Read in July, 2012
Although I guess I can see why certain fans don't like this one as much as Haddon's first book, I liked it just as well. It has the same flavor as the first, but with multiple main characters instead of just one. (I did not find them to be too many, as others are saying.)
Mark Haddon still does a fantastic job of showing rather than telling in terms of his characters--he really has a wonderful way of letting the reader get inside the characters' heads. I think that was part of what made his first novel great, and he has held onto that in this one.
Haddon writes well and is able to portray his characters both in angst and in happiness, which adds to the plot since one finds themselves identifying with the feelings of love, confusion, and upset. It is also an interesting perspective of how parents try to relate and understand their grown children and their decisions.
What made this one almost better than Curious Incident was the abundance of poignant moments. This book does not lack for meaningful segments but also doesn't overdo it. I sat and thought about certain passages sometimes --they really made me think.
I highly recommend this book to those who liked the first book for more than just its focus on a kid with a developmental disorder. He was very interesting, but I liked this family much more. They were more real, and quite a bit dysfunctional as any other family, only they had much more class, being English and all.
The only parts of the book I had a hard time with, were (1) that the panic attacks were difficult to deal with, if you've ever had one. (2) The "scissors" scene made me cringe, and race through -- I cannot understand anyone being that sick, they could do this to themselves. But then again, I am a big baby when it comes to pain, having had so much of it already. (3) I had a hard time with the ending, what with the (very English??) "let's get over with this, and on with things" attitude the main character seemed to suddenly BE ABLE to develope.. if you have EVER been depressed, this does not happen quite so quickly, or so easily. I don't care if you're English, and have that "stiff upper lip" mentality. That man needed LOTS more therapy, and anti-depressants. (And maybe this is why so many people are having a hard time with this book. Who among us is really all that comfortable with mental illness....??)
My favorite passage, of which there were many:
"What was Jamie going to say? It seemed so obvious what he felt. But when he tried to put it into words it sounded so clumsy and unconvincing and sentimental. If only you could lift a lid on the top of your head and say, 'Look.'" (243)