Rosie Project (Review)

Labels: A Lighter Touch

lighter-touch-6

The Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion, 2013
304 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
November, 2013

Feelings disrupt Don Tillman's orderly world. He listens to Bach, not for its beauty but for the pattern of its notes. He runs his life based on logic, he times his weekly schedule down to the minute, and he has zero luck with women—small wonder.

A 39-year-old professor of genetics, Don is an intellectual savant and social misfit. It's obvious to us that he has Asperger's though it's a fact that clearly escapes him. He's just...unusual, is what Don thinks. His disastrous history with women notwithstanding, Don is out to get a wife.

In walks Rosie, literally, into his office, sporting bright red hair, ripped T-shirt, and heavy metal. She is the most unsuitable candidate imaginable for Don's new "Wife Project." If you think you know where this is going, you're probably right. Even though we're fairly certain of the outcome, the fun with this novel is how it plays out.

The opening chapters of the book are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Don gives a lecture to a group of teens with Asperger's and poses a hypothetical  problem—you're in a basement hiding from your enemies, you've got a baby...which starts to cry, you've also got a gun...with a silencer, the enemy is coming closer. What do you do? 

Shoot the baby! Shoot the baby! Shoot the enemy! How long can babies go without air? Parents are horrified, the teacher mortified, but Don's delighted. This is creative thinking, he exclaims. It's the very thing Aspies excel at!—pure problem solving unhampered by emotional baggage.

Author Graeme Simsion says his novel started off as a screenplay, and it feels very much that way—a light-hearted romantic comedy. Still, there's some good stuff to chew on here...the pain of being a social outcast, living among people whose facial expressions and idioms you can't interpret, and living without empathy in a world where feelings are what most people go on.

This is a great, fun read: a book to turn to when your club needs a good laugh...along with some thoughtful discussion about the nature of the human brain.

See the Reading Guide for The Rosie Project.

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