I was a teenager driven by angst and swimming in the gallant idea of love when I first read Haddon’s Whitebread Award Winner. I vaguely remember liking it back in high school, and as I started hoarding again, I wanted to have my own copy. Luckily, the gods sent Sasha to give a copy of the book in exchange of my undying love. Hihi.
I find it fascinating how kids perceive the world. Their simple logic and their innocence are among the few wonders we have left in this otherwise chaotic reality, and I have always considered the world in their eyes my happy place.
Christopher John Francis Moore is a fifteen-year-old boy with autism, and he sets out in a Sherlock Holmes adventure to search for the killer of his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, while we are familiarized with how Christopher views the simplicity and complexity of human relationships.
I know. It’s overkill.
Just recently, a good friend read this novel. I told him that I would not recommend this as a holiday read as I remember being sad while reading it. He dismissed it saying that he guessed that Christopher’s mother did not die at the start of the novel, thus, making it predictable, and that it was not as sad as I said it was.
I wanted to argue with him [Or did I?] and point out that maybe he was just unfeeling when he read the novel. Until I realized that maybe, it was actually I who was indulged in Christopher’s character, and that maybe, I did a bit of overreading, and well, overfeeling which lead me to quiet sobs at some parts.
Christopher reminds me of another favorite fictional character, Oskar Schell of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Both were just so sad and somehow, have trudged on life with so much fear, that have stirred what people call emotionz in me. Now, before I turn sappy and bore you with my woes, let me prove my point on Christopher:
I stepped outside. Father was standing in the corridor. He held up his right hand and spread his fingers out in a fan. I held up my left hand and spread my fingers out in a fan and we made our fingers and thumb touch each other. We do this because sometimes Father wants to give me a hug, but I don’t like hugging people so we do this instead, and it means that he loves me.
And it was exactly like having flu that time because I wanted it to stop, like you can just pull the plug of a computer out of the wall if it crashes, because I wanted to go to sleep so that I wouldn’t have to think because the only thing I could think was how much it hurt because there was no room for anything else in my head, but I couldn’t go to sleep and I just had to sit there and there was nothing to do except to wait and to hurt.
I don’t know if it was the maternal instinct kicking in, but I long to protect these kids from the cruelties of life and preserve their innocence and ideals.
One thing that made a mark on me was when Christopher’s father finally told him the truth that he killed Wellington.
You have to know that I am going to tell you the truth from now on. About everything. Because… if you don’t tell the truth now, then later on… later on, it hurts even more. So…
Now, this is the part where I fell into a mild argument with the friend I was telling you. I know he was just being his annoying self [ :3 ] when he said that he hated Christopher for being too maarte [I couldn’t find the right word in English! Picky?]. But you see, it was disillusionment that felt, and it has always been a touchy and favorite concern and emotion for me. The poor boy had put too much faith in his father, and when he found out the truth, he felt scared and lost.
As adults, we hurt when certain beliefs turn out to be lies. We are already armed with what people call as maturity and our emotional quotient tells us to get past it and move on, but the pain and the fear remain. How much more for a boy like Christopher who only has his father as his only guide?
But maybe, all the too much feeling and sadness were because I am the kind of reader who always immerse myself in the character. I wear their heavy boots as they go through that certain chapter in their life, and it has become inevitable for me to separate myself from our hero.
Still, I don’t think that it’s that much of a bad idea to read that way. It is just that seeing the world in a child’s eyes is something that I, and perhaps some of us, long to go back to. Life is cruel, and as Christopher puts it:
Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you can never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.
Well, then, good luck to us adults.