(I’m going to try to make this a thing but I wish there was better alliteration for Sunday Book Club.)
I can’t tell how I feel about this book. Ok, my thing is, I think the beginning started off too slow for me. Granted, I know it’s the beginning so most of the story is set up here. We meet the characters, we are introduced to the surroundings, yada yada yada. That was a thing that happened. But I didn’t really like the pace it went at and I really didn’t like the narrator all that much for no particular reason. I felt like a lot of the end was the same way. It slowed down dramatically and I don’t know if the ending was enough for me. It kind of settled things and then just dropped you and, like, not a huge fan. But the middle, for me, was where this book was a real winner. Did I love the plot line? No, not really. Did I love all the explanations Christopher provides throughout the entire story? No, but this is where the story was. This is where we really met Christopher and learned about him.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the first part of this book had some great moments. I think when Christopher talks about the death of his mother and attending her funeral, it was probably one of the most beautiful things:
But Mother was cremated. This means that she was put into a coffin and burned and ground up and turned into ash and smoke. I do not know what happens to the ash and I couldn’t ask at the crematorium because I didn’t go to the funeral. But the smoke goes out of the chimney and into the air and sometimes I look up into the sky and I think there are molecules of Mother up there, or in the clouds over Africa or the Antarctic, or coming down as rain in the rain forests in Brazil, or in snow somewhere.
Like, I die. I think a lot of people discuss death and I think a lot of people discuss death in a lot of different ways, but this description comes from a young special needs boy who hadn’t experienced it before and who now had to experience it in the form of his own mother. It’s a wonderful image to think up of our loved ones showering the earth with themselves in some form even after life.
I also think the description of silence in the first part is pretty spectacular and I have nothing more to say about it than that: “On the fifth day, which was a Sunday, it rained very hard. I like it when it rains hard. It sounds like white noise everywhere, which is like silence but not empty.”
Ok, but on a more serious note, (spoiler alert, kind of) when Christopher finds the letters from his mother in his father’s closet, THIS is where everything begins for me. Was Christopher’s dad an awful person? Yes, 100%, but Christopher’s character evolved so drastically in the following moments. His descriptions and long winded explanations were, I think, the most on point in this section above all other sections. I normally don’t like really extravagant descriptions of basically anything, but Christopher’s descriptions aren’t of what he sees all the time, but they’re more so how he feels when he’s seeing them, especially for the first time. He even can adequately describe how he feels his own mind works, which is pretty great, because mostly I could never do that ever in my whole life. There’s a really great passage in which he is talking about the train station timetables and how much he likes the schedule and then he goes into an explanation about time and it’s long but I really want to type it all up because that’s just what I want to do right now:
Because time is not like space. And when you put something down somewhere, like a protractor or a biscuit, you can have a map in your head to tell you where you have left it, but even if yo udon’t have a map it will still be there because a map is a representation of things that actually exist so you can find the protractor or the biscuit again. And a timetable is a map of time, except that if you don’t have a timetable time is not there like the landing and the garden and the route to school. Because time is only the relationship between the way different things change, like the earth going round the sun and atoms vibrating and clocks ticking and day and night and waking up and going to sleep, and it is like west or nor-nor-east, which won’t exist when the earth stops existing and falls into the sun because it is only a relationship between the North Pole and the South Pole and everywhere else, like Mogadishu and Sunderland and Canberra.
And it isn’t a fixed relationship like the relationship between our house and Mrs. Shear’s house, or like the relationship between 7 and 865, but it depends on how fast you are going relative to a specific point. And if you go off in a spaceship and you travel near the speed of light, you may come back and find that all your family is dead and you are still young and it will be the future but your clock will say that you have only been away for a few days of months.
…And this means that time is a mystery, and not even a thing, and no one has ever solved the puzzle of what time is, exactly. And so, if you get lost in time it is like being lost in a desert, except that you can’t see the desert because it is not a thing.
My goodness, Mark Haddon is the man. It’s like a weird stream of consciousness and I wish with all that I have that I could write a story like this and not have it turn into something annoying, because mostly that’s what I think it would turn in to. So this is possibly my next experiment because this is just beautiful and exciting and thought provoking like I don’t know what.
Wow, I’m really bad at book reviews.
Ok, but also my last note is that on the back of the book there are a few reviews and one of them says: “Think of The Sound and the Fury crossed with The Catcher in the Rye…” And I get The Sound of the Fury and I can kind of see Salinger. KIND OF. But I would now also probably add Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and even maybe John Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close because I think both those stories and narrators share a similar way in their delivery of information to their audiences.