Friday, March 13, 2015

The Rosie Project

Title:  The Rosie Project
Author:  Graeme Simsion
Publication Information:  Simon & Schuster. 2013. 304 pages.
ISBN:  1476729085 / 978-1476729084

Book Source:  I read this book as this month's selection for my local book club.

Opening Sentence:  "I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem."

Favorite Quote:  "If your really love someone ... you have to be prepared to accept them as they are."

Don Tillman decides he needs a wife. So, in his usual fashion, he approaches the "wife problem" logically, analytically, and objectively. He identifies the characteristics he seeks in a mate and creates a questionnaire to determine if a potential mate has those characteristics. His intention is to offer the questionnaire to women in an effort to quickly identify compatibility or incompatibility. To him, this is logical and makes sense.

He does realize that not everyone thinks the way he does. In fact, this is something he has known since grade school. As he puts it, he is wired differently. Social interaction has always been difficult for him. Routines and black-and-white rules help him organize his life. He does not view himself as less capable or challenged; he just knows what works for him. He embodies many of the characteristics of someone with Aspergers; yet, he does not see that in himself even though he is professor of genetics and lectures on the topic. The book points out, "Humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others."

Along comes Rosie. She is a PhD student and works in a bar to support her education. She is not aware of Don's project to find a wife. Rosie does not meet many of the criteria on Don's list, but there's something about Rosie... Don doesn't understand love, but there's something about Rosie.... She seems entirely incompatible, but there's something about Rosie.... You see where this is going? "Love is a powerful feeling for another person, often defying logic."

Don and Rosie are both endearing characters, and their story is sweet and at times laugh out loud funny. The book touches on that quest of finding "the one," what we go through, and how what we think we want turns out to be completely different from what brings us joy. The book also highlights that "different" does not mean "less;" it just means "different."

The questions I have about the book is book relate to the implication that Don Tillman has Aspergers. The book never specifically states that, but it is clearly implied. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders defines Aspergers as "an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by social impairment, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior." Is this book an accurate depiction? Are the changes Don undergoes as he develops a relationship with Rosie realistic? If you deal with Aspergers or love someone who deals with Aspergers, is this book the sweet love story I see or something different?

Leaving the serious questions aside, the book is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I look forward to reading the sequel.

Book Club Discussion:  This book led to one of the more lively and more in depth discussions our book club has had recently. I suppose because at the end of it all, this book is about relationships, acceptance, and love. That is something we all responded to. The discussion started with the book but led to much deeper conversation. On the flip side, we also had a lot of fun taking the "Wife Project" quiz: Are you compatible with Don?

So, are you a Don or a Rosie?

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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