by Mark Haddon
The protagonist has Asperger's syndrome, and reading about how the adults in his life behave made me curiously self-reflective, and a little embarassed. It made me more understanding and patient with my own step-son who suffers from ADHD, which is thankfully mild compared with autism or Asperger's.
Asperger's syndrome is like autism in that it's cause is the incomplete or improper development of the nervous system and brain. The primary difference is the degree to which it hampers normal interactions and communication. What's great about this novel is that it takes the notion of normal and stands it on its head. Much of what we take for normal sucks. Just because a person has a properly developped nervous system doesn't keep them from being a jerk. And by the same token, a neurological handicap doesn't keep someone from being magnificent.
The story is engaging, imaginitive, and engrossing; an adventure story par-excellance.