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The book begins with, as the title suggests, a rather curious incident with the neighbor, Mrs. Shear’s poodle Wellington. Shortly after midnight, Christopher wanders over to Mrs. Shear’s yard only to find Wellington dead on the grass with what appears to be a pitchfork driven through his body. At this point Christopher is discovered by Mrs. Shears and the police are called. When the police begin asking questions of Christopher, he does not like it and ends up hitting the police officer and getting arrested for assault. Here begins a conflicted relationship for Christopher with police authority that continues for the rest of the novel. It is at the police station where we first meet Christopher’s father and primary care giver. For the rest of the novel Christopher tries to become a detective and solve the mystery of who killed Wellington and why.
As Christopher begins his adventures in detective work he decides to chronicle the Wellington case in a novel he begins to write. Christopher is assisted in his authorship by Siobhan who is part teacher, part psychologist, part friend. Siobhan works with Christopher at his school for special needs. Christopher looks to Siobhan for a great deal of support and guidance. She is one of, if not ultimately the most, trusted figure in Christopher’s life. She assists Christopher when he has difficulties understanding the nuisances of the world around. Siobhan almost functions as an interpreter to translate Christopher’s understanding of the world into one that is more healthy and appropriate. Siobhan also serves as a positive and authoritative female figure in Christopher’s life in the absence of his mother.
It is perhaps due in part to Siobhan’s influence that Christopher experiences such success at school. Christopher could be described as exhibiting almost Savant-like characteristics. His favorite subjects are math (or maths) and science, most especially physics and aeronautics. He even wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.
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As the novel unfolds Christopher begins his detective work to discover who killed Wellington, against his father’s wishes. Mr. Boone repeatedly asks, tells, and eventually almost commands Christopher to keep his nose out of other people’s business. But, despite his wishes Christopher begins snooping around the neighborhood. Although Christopher expresses extreme dislike and fear of speaking to and interacting with strangers, which most of his neighbor’s are to him, he decides to bite the bullet (a metaphor Christopher would likely NOT approve of) and investigate.
After being phoned by Mrs. Shear’s who informs Mr. Boone of Christopher’s detective activities, his father puts an end to it once and for all by tossing the murder mystery novel Christopher is writing in the trash. Christopher knows that if he went right out to the trash to grab his novel his father would stop him, so he waits until he can do so without being detected. But when Christopher looks into the garbage the book is no where to be found. Christopher decides he must search the house to find his book but waits again until his father is at work so he will not discover Christopher is still working on the case. Once alone, Christopher searches the house top to bottom and eventually ends up in his father’s room searching through some papers in his closet. It is here that Christopher discovers letters addressed to him. He rationalizes that because they are addressed to him, he is allowed to read what is inside.
Christopher’s mother has been gone for two years. Mr. Boone told Christopher that his mother, a health nut who was always exercising, had gone into the hospital and had a massive heart attack that killed her. But, he letters Christopher found told a totally different story. His mother had apparently had an affair with, of all people, the next door neighbor Mr. Shears. When the Boone’s marriage began deteriorating and Mrs. Boone ran out of the patience needed to deal with Christopher’s condition, she left Swindon to move to London with Mr. Roger Shears. Contained in the box, were letters that Mrs. Boone had written at least once a week since her death/disappearance. Naturally, Christopher was confused when he opened the a letter describing what had happened. It’s quite a shock to hear your mother is alive and well after you had taken her for dead for two years. Upon reading this, Christopher gets sick everywhere and awakens to hear his father coming up the stairs. His father realizing what his son has discovered is in shock. He quickly tries to explain what happened. Trying to be as honest as possible, Mr. Boone not only reveals what had happened to mother, but also that it was he who was responsible for Wellington’s death.
At this, Christopher becomes extremely upset and fearful and decides almost immediately he must leave the house and his father. Looking at the letters he sees that his mother has included her new address in London with Roger. Christopher decides that although it will be difficult he will make his way to live with his mother. All alone and extremely distraught from the circumstances, Christopher sets off to navigate the way to London. At the station, Christopher has another encounter with the police. He is assisted by an officer through the station. The officer helps Christopher purchase a ticket to London and helps to show him what direction to go to get to the train and then sends Christopher on his way. Once on the train, Christopher is again approached by the officer. His father has come to the station to find Christopher and bring him home, by choice or force. Christopher manages to escape the officer, stowing away in a luggage rack until they arrive in London where he quickly exit’s the train. He is again helped by a worker who tells him how to take the underground to his mother’s neighborhood. Although the station is incredibly over stimulating for Christopher he manages to get on a train, only after about eight hours of sitting in the station afraid.
Once off the underground, Christopher purchases a map and navigates a route to his mothers house. Upon arrival, Christopher’s mother is in shock that he is here in the flesh and infuriated that his father has told such lies. Christopher stays here for several days. His mother tells him he must cancel the level-A math exam scheduled for the next few days because they cannot go back to Swindon. Christopher is understandably devastated that his highest accomplishment he will no longer be able to even attempt.
Shortly thereafter, Christopher is verbally assaulted by Roger Shears, at which time his mother decides it is no longer a safe environment. They pack up Roger’s car a leave back to Swindon; back to Christopher’s father.
Upon return Christopher is extremely hesitant to even be near his father. He is unable to focus on anything but not being able to take his exam. While he thought all was lost, Siobhan informs him that there might be a way for him to still take his test. Christopher is trilled and agrees to despite everything else that has happened to him. He takes the exam, but does not feel well and fears he did not perform his best. He later reveals he performed extremely well earning a grade of A, the highest possible.
Following the test, Christopher is still very, very hesitant to speak to his father. As a piece offering, his father buys Christopher a puppy Golden Retriever, Sandy, and pleads with him to help them learn how to trust one another again. The novel concludes with Christopher and his father making slow and gradual progress towards the loving relationship they once had.
The relationship between Christopher and his father is perhaps one of the most interesting in the book. After the abandonment of Christopher’s mother, Christopher’s father takes on the care of Christopher. Christopher’s father is extremely patient throughout the novel. He takes special care not to touch Christopher, although you can imagine how much a father would simply want to hold his son. He always has movies and TV programs that are of interest to Christopher. He tolerates his meltdowns and difficulties in public where others are might have turned and ran. He cooks for Christopher every night paying special attention to Christopher’s preferences, such as no foods can touch on the plate and dislike of yellow or brown foods.
And even though there is so much he does to help Christopher be successful and happy, Christopher’s father receives very little back from his son to tell him he is appreciated. He never says thanks for not hugging me, only screams when he does. He always eats his dinner, but only voices complaints when it is not how it is supposed to be. His father never minded and seemed only to care about his sons well-being.
The conflict this causes is most evident when Christopher discovers the truth about his mother. Every kind word and action goes out the window when Christopher discovers his father had lied. This is an understandable reaction on Christopher part, but the heartache felt by his father when his son puts himself in such danger and discomfort simply to escape the person who cares for him most. Although his father was in the wrong in saying those things, his intention was only to do what was best for his son. It is almost as if, you want to fast forward after the novels conclusion to ensure that Christopher and his father can get back on track. This struggle mirrors the experiences of many parents of special needs children. Working, working, working for little acknowledgement. Hopefully overtime Christopher will realize why his father did what he did and understand exactly how much his father loves him.