I first came across The Rosie Project during BEA 2013 and was lucky enough to pick up a copy. I've a big backlog of books to review, but after finishing The Rosie Project this morning, I wanted to spread the word. If you've read and enjoyed "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time," you must pick up The Rosie Project.
Don Tillman, a professor of genetics, has a brilliant scientific mind, but social situations confound him. He's never had a second date. And so, in the the evidence-based manner in which he approaches all things, he embarks upon the Wife Project: a sixteen-page questionnaire to find the perfect partner. Then in walks Rosie Jarman.
Rosie is on a quest of her own. She's looking for her biological father, a search that a certain genetics expert might just be able to help her with. Soon Don puts the Wife Project on the back burner to help Rosie pursue the Father Project. As their unlikely relationship blooms, Don realizes that love doesn't always add up on paper.
ISBN-10: 1476729085 - Hardcover $14.40
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 1, 2013), 304 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
It's hard to capture the charm of The Rosie Project. We know that Don Tillman is beyond socially awkward, he seems to be high functioning with undiagnosed Asperger's, and the story is told from Don's point of view.
It's one thing to say that Don had three friends and that one died. It's another thing altogether to see how he lives his life, to understand the value of his close friends, and of his interactions with the people around him.
The book opens with Don describing how he agreed to take his friend Gene's place and deliver a lecture on Asperger's syndrome. As Don does research on Asperger's, he admits that the area is unfamiliar to him as it's outside his specialty. Don concludes that most of the symptoms are variations in human brain function that had been medicalized because they did not fit constructed social norms. His lecture focuses on the technical, DNA structures until the organizer attempts to sum up referring to Asperger's as something that people are born with and "nobody's fault." Don then tries to explain that those with Asperger's are associated with organized, rational, innovative thinking not restricted by emotions which can cause major problems. He proceeds to give a situation where emotional reactions may hinder a rational response - using danger, a baby and a firearm - and one of the funniest scenes that I've read in a long time.
The Rosie Project tells Don's story with great humor and sympathy. I had just started the book this morning and was laughing so loudly that my husband started to complain, "I don't laugh so loud when I'm reading!" I thought that was more a testament to his recent book choices and the strength of The Rosie Project.
Graeme Simsion, PhD, was the owner of successful consulting business, who decided, at fifty, that he would become a writer. The Rosie Project is his first book.