Don Tillman is definitely not a typical protagonist. A professor of genetics at a prestigious university, he prepares Lobster, Mango, and Avocado salad every Tuesday, once memorized the Periodic Table for fun, and uses a giant whiteboard to schedule out his time literally to the minute. Don lives his life as a science…until a spontaneous, fun-loving woman by the name of Rosie comes crashing into his life. As Don and Rosie take on one challenge after the next in Graeme Simsion’s “The Rosie Project,” readers will find themselves captivated by one man’s unexpected journey of spontaneous fun, irrational attraction, and ultimately, true love.
“The Rosie Project” is a great balance of character study and exciting plot written in easy-to-read prose. While Don’s story touches on the deep themes of human attraction and societal expectations, it is also a light-hearted story with plenty of humor to keep readers turning the page. As he develops a 16 page survey to find a wife, arrives “semi-formally” dressed in a top hat and tuxedo, and memorizes hundreds of statistics in preparation for his first baseball game, Don will have readers laughing out loud from beginning to end.
Perhaps the most enlightening aspect of the novel is the development of the relationship between the reader and Don as a character as the plot progresses. At the beginning, Don seems judgmental, serious, and not very relatable. However, as Don spends more time with Rosie and ventures outside of his comfort zone, readers may begin to see connections between themselves and Don’s social fears and hopes. Don is the literary embodiment of the awkward moments, deep desire to control one’s future, and fear of inadequacy that are all a part of human nature.
Ultimately, the novel is about love and acceptance of self and others. Throughout the story, Simsion hints at Don’s possible diagnosis with Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome, a relatively recently discovered disorder on the autism spectrum, is characterized by difficulty with social interactions, a desire to repeat behaviors and keep schedules, and advanced cognitive development, specifically within areas of interest. As such, love is an emotion that Don must explore and define in his own way throughout the novel. Additionally, because he is so eccentric, Rosie must learn to accept Don for the person that he is, with both characters making exceptional personal sacrifices to keep the relationship alive.
Graeme Simsion, formerly an IT consultant, spent six years developing and writing “The Rosie Project.” The novel, inspired by one of Mr. Simsion’s extremely intelligent friends who had a difficult time finding a meaningful relationship, was published in April of 2013 and immediately became an international bestseller. The book’s unique spin on a classic love story and intelligent use of humor have proven so popular that a sequel, “The Rosie Effect,” will be released on September 24th, 2014.
Charming and witty, the awkward and memorable love story of “The Rosie Project” is a perfect read for anyone who needs a good laugh, adores intelligent jokes and puns, or appreciates a heartfelt romance. Professor Don and Rosie will have readers pondering themes of human empathy and the rationality of irrational behavior long after the last page is turned.