Autism is always an interesting thing to write about. It’s honestly kind of a gimmick, and can sometimes drown in its own one-track perspective, but as with anything of this genre, it can be used to expose interesting facts about human nature and the way the world works. The best of this type is Kozinsky’s wonderful Zen book, Being There, but for every Being There we are tortured with likes a million Sean Penn and Juliette Lewis stinkers. Not that being mentally challenged is the same as having autism, but the whole “innocent” viewing the screwed up world around him is pretty much par for the course. Execution is, of course, the essential piece of the puzzle. Now, you could take the St. Elsewhere approach and just fake it, or you could write a convincing story, and be consistent with it. That’s often the problem when adults write stories with children main characters–let alone autistic kids. Haddon does a great job with the child part. Granted, he’s a British child, so there’s already a kind of funny, adult thing going on from the start. Anyway, Haddon nails the kid thing. As far as autism goes, I don’t have a ton of experience with it, although I’ve been around a couple higher functioning autistic kids who you never would have known suffered from autism hadn’t they been waaaay too into The Warriors or been able to calculate exactly how much everyone in our party of fifteen (along with a 15% tip) owed after looking at the dinner bill for three seconds. I can’t claim this as a major work of genius, or literature, but it certainly is an entertaining book that manages to keep a consistent and engaging narrative going. I liked it.