Dear Mr. Mark Haddon,
Your book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has changed me in a way that is hard to explain in a letter. I am only twelve, so you may be doubtful that I even understood the story. Although something tells me I did understand it because it had such an impact on how I think about the world.
Libraries and bookstores are usually where I find my books, but one night I decided to venture into my mom’s room. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that I did because otherwise I wouldn’t have picked up the little pale pink book with an upside down dog on the cover and a very long title. The first thing I noticed when I opened the story that would eventually change my perspective on life was the style of your writing. It hit me like a wave crashing onto the shore. When I plucked the novel off the chalky white shelf I was expecting a quick read, but it was truly different from anything I had read thus far. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was powerful enough to keep me turning the pages.
The first night, I was in tears. My parents found me in my room, my hands shaking and my eyes red and puffy, but I was still reading. This is because I realized that this book was more than entertainment; it was a lesson. The message that I grasped was that it is important to be considerate in every situation; and that lesson is still with me today, three months later.
At first, I felt pity for Christopher. He could not understand feelings, and I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t experience excitement, happiness, fear, love, and hatred every day. But then I looked at it in a different way. His condition was a curse and a gift. Christopher always spoke the truth. He lived life logically, and he didn’t let his emotions distract him from his thoughts.
Then the gears of a dusty machine in the back of my head clicked into place, and I tried to imagine a life where everyone was truthful, and no one let their feelings cloud their mind. I love math, so I already thought logically, but I am always sugarcoating what to say to other people. I mean, I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But if we were all like Christopher and spoke what was really on our minds, I think we would have a more efficient way of living.
Then there is the downside of that theory. If we had no emotions, we wouldn’t have excitement, happiness, fear, love, and hatred. In my opinion, the absence of those emotions would be a large price to pay for any amount of efficiency.
These beliefs are only part of the lesson that your book has taught me. There are two sides to everything, no matter how hard you try to make something good or bad. There will always be the reverse side to an action, and I think that is some extremely valuable advice.
The other message your book has taught me is how important it is to be empathetic. Before I read this book, I was nice, but I never thought about what it would be like to live in a situation where no one listened to what I was saying. Throughout the book people were ignorant to Christopher’s ideas, even though he was a bright person who was trapped in a dark situation. Today, instead of wondering why someone is acting different, I wonder what is going on, and if they need help. I am eager to assist anyone, even strangers, now that I know how hard it is to be special.
I have a cousin named James who has a condition similar to Christopher’s. I have never really understood what made him operate differently. Reading this book has helped me better understand him, and that is very important to me. I want to let you know how grateful I am that I can now make this connection with James and try to make him feel more comfortable around me.
These are only a few lessons that I took away from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. I know there are more, so many that I couldn’t even identify them all. The best I can do is tell you that I felt enlightened after reading your book. And now I have a better understanding of life. Thank you.