Title: The Rosie Project
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Time taken to read: 24 hours
Goodreads synopsis: Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
I don’t really know where to start with this one. The Rosie Project hit very close to home for me because I sort of have my own Don Tillman, though he doesn’t want me to reveal his identity on here because he’s very private. But my point in mentioning it is that my review and my rating are pretty biased because I already loved Don before I started reading, and I saw myself in Rosie too. So I read this book obsessively in just 24 hours, some of those hours being on the subway, which typically makes me nauseous, but I had no choice. I was addicted to this story.
I saw a lot of reviewers on Goodreads saying that they are “no expert on Asperger’s” or even that they had never even met someone with what is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder, but they believe Don is “nothing like people with Asperger’s” and other obviously ridiculous statements. I guess I’m not technically an expert either, but after living with a person with ASD and spending every day for almost four years interacting with them, I think I maybe know what I’m talking about a little bit, and I have to say as far as my knowledge goes, Don was a great portrayal of the disorder. I read one review about how it was terrible that Don debates with himself whether or not he’s capable of love, because people with ASD have very deep feelings that they just can’t express. This is true, and the book showed that. Rosie wanted love to be expressed in a certain way, and Don just didn’t, and that made him doubt his ability to love until the two of them realized, as I have realized, that everyone shows love differently, and sometimes, when people are really different and their brains work in seemingly opposite ways, you have to train yourself to recognize that person’s way of expressing love. And doing that is really hard, but you do it when you have a connection with someone that defies all logic, like with Don and Rosie. I also think that this book brings up a really important topic even for those without ASD about how much you should change for a person. I think if the changes you’re making are clearly for the better, like how Don is trying to be a kinder person, not just for Rosie but for everyone in his life, then it’s okay. A lot of people on Goodreads also said that it was unrealistic that he changed so much, but I think they’re wrong too. In the time I’ve known my Don, he has become drastically nicer and more understanding and open. He’s still very much himself, but he’s softer, and his whole family has noticed the changes. And he works on himself for me, but also for his family and friends and coworkers, and it feels right to him.
My one criticism (spoiler alert) is that his proposal and her acceptance of it seemed a little odd. I wasn’t sure exactly how long they had known each other at that point, but I thought it would have been better if he proposed and Rosie was like, “Hey pal, love the enthusiasm, but let’s try dating normally first.” But they’re much older than me, so that might account for the rush. Either way, I’m giving this five stars and no one can stop me, and I’ve been recommending it to people at B&N all week. I convinced my Don to read this book, and I told him, “I know you’re going to hate this. Don would never read this book.” But he really understood that it’s important to me, and I’m excited to hear his opinions, which I will share with you all in my future review of the sequel, The Rosie Effect.