Rosie Project (Review)

Labels: A Lighter Touch


The Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion, 2013
304 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
November, 2013

Feelings are a serious disruption to 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 strict 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, and his disastrous history with women notwithstanding, Don is out to get a wife.

In walks Rosie—literally into Don's office—sporting bright red hair, ripped T-shirt, and heavy metal. She's the least suitable candidate possible for his new "Wife Project," which means it's fairly clear where this is heading. Yet even though we're pretty sure how the novel will end, there's a great deal of fun to be had in getting there.

It's in the opening chapters especially that the author's humor shines. In one instance, Don is invited to give a lecture to a group of teens with Asperger's, along with their parents. As a sort ot test, he tosses out a hypothetical problem for the kids to solve:

You're in a basement hiding from your've got a starts to've also got a gun...with a silencer...the enemy is coming closer.... What do you do?

The kids response is straightforward and shocking. The parents are horrified, the teacher mortified, but Don's delighted. They've demonstrated creative thinking, he exclaims!—the very thing "Aspies" excel at, pure problem solving unhampered by emotional baggage.

Author Graeme Simsion has said his novel started off as a screenplay, and it feels that way—a light-hearted romantic comedy. Still, there's some 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.

Rosie is great fun to 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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