Completely surpassed my expectations! -5 Stars
Source- Kindle, bought copy
Amazon Encore- August 2012
I have read a couple of novels with characters who have Aspergers, primarily ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ (Mark Haddon) and ‘House Rules’ (Jodi Picoult). Both of these authors created very complex but believable protagonists and so I was keen to discover this (new to me) author’s approach in handling the same subject matter. Happily, this wonderful little book completely surpassed my expectations. I couldn’t put it down.
39 year-old-Edward Stanton resides in Billings, Montana, in a home paid for by his politician father with whom he is somewhat distanced from. Inhibited by his daily routines, which include recording that day’s weather data, the time he awakes each morning and watching daily 10pm re-runs of ‘Dragnet,’ amongst other tasks, Edward also ends his evenings by writing a complaint letter to someone who he feels has wronged him at some point during the day- be it the mail-man, a clerk at the paint store or even one of the assemble cast from Dragnet. On the advice of his therapist however, the complaint letters remain unsent, chronicled away in a multitude of green folders inside his office. When new neighbour Donna and her son Kyle arrive into Edward’s perfectly ordered existence however, over 25 days (or 600 hours), Edward’s organised life is slowly turned upside down…
I enjoyed every single page of this novel. Edward is a spectacularly endearing character who will no doubt appeal to a great majority of readers. Not only does he have an utterly distinctive (and authentic) voice, but you just cannot help warming to him: to the way he takes everything literally and his complete reliance on facts, figures and routines and his alarm and confusion when these are disrupted in any way. I loved how the appearance of Donna and Kyle turned his world upside down without even trying and Edward’s perplexed nature when he understood that he had involuntarily gained friends. His efforts to try and relax his long-applied routines are also creditable- even given the severity of his OCD and Aspergers he is aware that some degree of change may be beneficial to him and seeks to alter his habits, with amusing consequences.
Despite the welcome doses of humour laced in the plot, the book is not without its poignant moments, including Edward’s regular aspirations for acceptance amongst his peers and his efforts to try and secure a date, to fit in with the norms of society. The relationship between Edward and his parents, particularly his politician father, was a complex one from the very outset too and is sensitively handled. The author has a real gift for exploring the difficult dynamics between a father and son, particularly one with Aspergers and OCD and the impact that this can have on family life. I thought it was beautifully depicted.
Though this character-driven tale works very well as a stand-alone novel, I am anticipating the forthcoming sequel ‘Edward Adrift’ with high hopes in order to see Edward’s journey continue; it will be a must-read for me after this one.
600 Hours of Edward was a captivating, thought-provoking story that will appeal to anyone looking for a fictitious insight into the mind of someone with Aspergers and indeed was a very uplifting book overall. Aspergers and OCD are not treated solely as kind of illnesses but instead as merely facets to Edward’s already loveable character which is what makes this such a richly, rewarding story.