Series: Don Tillman #1
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 1st 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mental health
An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.
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.
The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.
Funny, geeky, sweet. The Rosie Project is an entertaining but somewhat stereotypical take on Asperger’s syndrome with a quirky and sympathetic narrator.
This story rises and falls with the main character, 39-yr old Prof Don Tillman, who seems to be oblivious to his Asperger’s syndrome and yet quite aware that he does not fit in. Incredibly misunderstood by the opposite gender, Don embarks on the mission to find a suitable mate, as he calls it, by initiating The Wife Project. But like many scientists, Don soon has to learn that some matters in life, like love, cannot be solved with a scientific approach.
“But why, why, why can’t people just say what they mean?”
Simsion set his money on the awkward-yet-hilarious approach. Don’s daily behaviour, his little quirks and obsession with clothing fitting the weather conditions, is amusing (though not without facepalm-moments). Misunderstandings are scattered all across Don’s life, and as a reader, you cannot but feel a bit sorry for him sometimes. As with any good book, there was a fascinating development to his character, as Don embarks on both finding a wife and finding his place in the world – and his world is inevitably tipped when Rosie, a strong-willed and sarcasm-spouting wildfire, enters his life.
In spite of the sweet but awkward main character and his equally charming companion, the plot overall just didn’t quite cut it. I felt entertained but not invested. Perhaps it’s the pragmatic perspective of Don’s from which the story is told or it was, at times, simply a lack of progress. Furthermore, some aspects of the book irked me as a psychology major. First of all, I thought Simsion was operating with a lot of clichés regarding Asperger’s, though there are certainly autistic people whose social environment will feel reminded of their loved ones. However, I couldn’t help but draw a lot of parallels to the figure of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, which made it somewhat unoriginal. What about shining some light on a side of Asperger’s or autism in general from which we haven’t heard anything? Just a thought. Even more disturbing were the clichés about psychology students as, contrary to what this book suggests, we do not all have daddy issues. Like, please just stop right there.
The Rosie Project is an entertaining read, but there is no unique take on Asperger’s nor does the point of view evoke any stronger feelings on the reader’s side than amusement.
Would I recommend this? It really depends on how many books featuring Asperger’s you’ve already read and how good they were. If one of them was truly amazing, then this one will be mediocre in comparison and I wouldn’t pick this one up. (Also, please pass along that recommendation in the comment section, thank you ^^).