600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster

6957731Fiction — print. Riverbend Publishing, 2009. 278 pgs. Library copy.

Chosen as an honor book for the Montana Book Award, Lancaster’s novel introduces readers to thirty-nine year old Edward Stanton, a man who has Asperger’s Syndrome and a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Fixated on numbers, Edward writes down the time he wakes every morning and the temperature of the day (actual, not the forecast).

His father, Edward Senior, decides he can longer deal with his son and moves his son into a small house on the other side of Billings, Montana. Edward Senior corresponds with his son through his lawyer, which greatly aggravates Edward Junior and provides much fodder for his nightly complaint letter. After meeting his new neighbor and her son, Edward’s life changes drastically over the course of 25 days (or 600 hours, as Edward prefers to look at it).

Properly capturing mental illness in a fictional book is a difficult task, and Lancaster did a superb job of portraying Edward as well as the frustrations Edward Senior feels. I kept thinking about this book long after I finished it. The glimpses into Edward’s thought process are both touching and illuminating. The roller coaster ride Edward is placed on by his father’s constant rejection and his introduction to Donna and Kyle is both frustrating and heartwarming.

I could have done without the play by play of each episode of “Dragnet” that Edward watches. I understand explaining it is a part of his compulsive behavior but I soon grew tired of reading about the episode in question. This is the only thing I disliked about this book. Otherwise, it’s a superbly written novel that I definitely recommend.

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