Discussion Questions

1. One of the unusual aspects of the novel is its inclusion of many maps and diagrams. Did these illustrations add to your understanding of the story?

2. Christopher tells us on page 5, "This is a murder mystery novel." Is it really? How would you characterize this book?

3. Christopher says, "Intuition can sometimes get things wrong. But logic can help you work out the right answer." (p.82). Does logic lead Christopher to the right answers? How important is intuition in reading this novel?

4. Discuss the relationship between father and son. Why do you think that the father chose to lie to Christopher about his mother?

5. Do you see any particular turning points for Christopher? What are they?

6. Haddon uses the literary technique of the 'unreliable narrator' where the narrator gives a limited or possibly false version of the story, and the reader must work out the real story. What do you think is the overall purpose of using such a narrator in this novel?

7. Christopher's conversations with Siobhan, his teacher at school, are possibly his most meaningful communications with another person. What are these conversations like, and how do they compare with his conversations with his father and his mother?

8. Mark Haddon has said of Christopher: "Here's a character whom if you met him in real life you'd never, ever get inside his head. Yet something magical happens when you write a novel about him." How did the author convey Christopher's unique way of thinking?

9. Christopher sees the world in an unemotional way. As a reader, what emotions did you feel throughout the book?

10. Since Mark Haddon has chosen to allow us see the world through Christopher's eyes, what does he help us discover about ourselves?

11. Discuss Christopher's 'behavioral problems' and the effect they had on his parents and their marriage (pgs. 45-48).

12. Despite Christopher's many 'behavioral problems,'do you feel sympathy or empathy for him? What makes him a likeable character?

13. Christopher's parents are dealing with emotions that they can't fully understand or control. How does this contrast with the way that Christopher deals with life?

14.Which scenes are comical in this novel, and why are they funny? Are these same situations also sad, or exasperating?

15. In your opinion, has Haddon created a credible picture of someone with Asperger's or autism? Why or why not?

16. Discuss this quote, which Christopher relates from The Hound of the Baskervilles: "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by chance ever observes" (p.73).

17.Would you say that this is a good novel? Do you feel that it has a hopeful ending?

18. Has reading this novel given you any new insights?