This is another book I would never have thought to pick up on my own. It was recommended to me by 2 women in a counseling course I took this past semester. They had read it in a class on counseling children.
But it's a novel, not a textbook. It's a story told by a 15 year old boy, beginning the day he found his neighbor's dog dead in her front yard. We know right away Christopher is a little different; though it is never explicitly stated, he is autistic. He is also a mathematical savant, and relates better to numbers than to people.
My boy and Christopher share some characteristics. Though my guy has never been diagnosed with autism or Asperger's Syndrome, he is likely on that spectrum. I see my boy a little bit in this passage:
And sometimes when I am in a new place and there are lots of people there it is like a computer crashing and I have to close my eyes and put my hands over my ears and groan, which is like pressing CTRL + ALT + DEL and shutting down programs and turning the computer off and rebooting so that I can remember what I am doing and where I am meant to be going.
This is how I picture what's going on in my boy's brain when we are working on a simple math problem and he can't get the answer out of his head, either verbally or by writing it down; when he feels me getting impatient with him, it becomes even harder for him to get the answer out.
It's a charming and harrowing story. Christopher's family life is not so hot. There are not-nice people around him. There is a lot of bad language.
The author is Mark Haddon, and according to his bio he has worked with autistic children. I recommend this to anyone who knows a kid who is a little different, whether diagnosed with "something" or not.
Update: I should thank Sarah at Smallworld for this book too. I had not realized, till I saw her comment here and went looking on her site, that I'd seen and commented on her review back in March!