Let’s face it, someone always has something to say about everything. Literature, autism, and fictional characters are not are the exception. A response always seems to be made because people view the world, their surrounding differently. We have our own reaction to the stimuli we encounter on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s the same and sometimes it is not but that does not mean our way of perceiving and feeling encompasses everyone else’s. The main arguments of many of the reviews was the author’s injustice towards those who are diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. However, there are reviews who accept the book and its portrayals in a more positive way.

William Shofield, the 18 year old student with Asperger’s syndrome, sees in Christopher many characteristics that he himself does have that are a result of his condition. He makes the short and concise list at the end of his reviews and concludes that like Christopher he too “likes his food separate” he also doesn’t like “big crowds. . .new places” and he finds it hard “to talk to people and make himself understood” (2). This list resonated with me because this list could be on many other people’s list of things they are not comfortable with or like. Sometimes I feel like I am not making sense and people are not understanding me. I do not have Asperger’s syndrome but that doesn’t mean I can’t see similar characteristics of myself in Christopher, just like it doesn’t mean that everyone with Asperger’s syndrome can say they see themselves in Christopher either. The autistic spectrum is a great example of how broad and diverse one diagnosis can be. Why is the spectrum so broad? Because no two people are the same! Mark Haddon could not of written a character that encompassed all the different traits that are associated with the every part of the spectrum. Shofield eloquently states that this story “is a better description of how the mind of a different person with some kind of special need looks upon how things work and come about (1).” In this story we enter a thinking process that is strange to us because it is not how we perceive or view the world. Our identities have not come into contact with this condition and therefore our perception has not been shaped by it either. We can’t say we understand Asperger’s or that we know what it is like for every person who has it because that is not possible. But we are exposed to it and maybe we become inclined to do our own research to uncover more about it in order to better understand it in a way only we can.

I really appreciated Shofield’s review because he didn’t try to sway my opinion about Haddon’s book. He stated his own views and how the book affected his mind and way of thinking. I cannot however, say the same thing about Elizabeth Bartmess’s response to the book. I was not a fan of her review because she seemed to believe she knew my understanding and feelings towards the book. I say this because in one particular line she states, “Haddon encourages the (non-autistic) reader to sympathize with Christopher’s parents -even when he’s supposedly writing from Christopher’s point of view.” The reason this sentence stood out to me is because she was doing exactly what she disliked about the book, the idea that one person represents a whole group. I am non-autistic and I did not sympathize with Christopher’s parents. They were old enough to make their own decisions they knew right from wrong and yet they committed a lot of mistakes throughout. There is also a part where she mentions that “the book normalizes abuse, presents the autistic protagonist as responsible for it, and suggest that he is not harmed by much of it.” This sentence alone reminded me of the controversy over rape and how some people believe that if a woman dresses provocatively then she is responsible for getting raped and therefore she can’t possibly be harmed by getting what she so called “wanted.” This belief outrages me because it’s an excuse to put the blame on someone else for their own mistakes. I do not believe that the abuse did not harm him. Maybe it did and in his own way he was broken by it but could not express it in a “normal” way and to see it as such is a problem because his “normal” is not my “normal” or your “normal.” I know Christopher does not represent everyone who has Asperger’s syndrome and it saddens me to think how much we stereotype and how problematic stereotyping is among us all.