Love isn’t an exact science — but no one told Don Tillman. A handsome thirty-nine-year-old geneticist, Don’s never had a second date. So he devises The Wife Project, a scientific test to find the perfect partner. Enter Rosie — ‘the world’s most incompatible woman’ — throwing Don’s safe, ordered life into chaos. Just what is this unsettling, alien emotion he’s feeling?
Publisher: Penguin Books
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion was high on my to read list for a very long time, and a few weeks ago I finally got around to reading it! I went in with high expectations, and it did not disappoint. At all. I absolutely loved it!
The story is told through the eyes of Don, and I think there’s no other way this story would have worked. At least not on the same level as it does now. It’s clear from the start that Don probably has some form of Asperger Syndrome, even though he isn’t aware of that himself. He knows perfectly well that he does things differently than most people, but attributes this to the fact that his brain just works differently. Which is basically true, of course. It also makes for an extremely interesting main character.
A friend of mine, who also read the book and has experience with people with Asperger’s, said she found this to be a romanticised representation of what is a very difficult disorder to live with. That’s probably very true, but it didn’t bother me while reading the book. It was very clear that while Don is quite content with his life, he has also known some very dark times and has always had great difficulty fitting in and understanding other people throughout his life. He just doesn’t get why people are so emotional all the time, and thinks his own way of handling situations is much better.
I’m a sucker for a good love story, but it has to have something different and original to it, and The Rosie Project definitely has that. Not only is there Don, who is not by any measure a typical male lead, but you’ve also got Rosie, who is his polar opposite, and pretty darn amazing. She’s not just another love interest to a main character, but actually a very well-rounded character. One of the most round characters I’ve read about in a while, even, I think. She’s extremely kickass and has this fierce feminist side to her, but she’s also deeply insecure and has this need and desire to be loved. And then there’s the chemistry between her and Don. The dynamic between those two is just perfect. I laughed a lot while reading this novel, and the most hilarious scenes involved interactions between Don and Rosie.
While there were plenty of (really) funny scenes, there was some heartbreak as well, which Simsion pulls of just as well as all the funny bits. It’s really sad to see that Don’s differences might end up standing between him and happiness. He thinks he is incapable of feeling love because of the way he is “wired”, and most people around him seem to think the same thing. It was really wonderful to see Don grow in his perceptions of other people as well as himself. He really changes throughout the story, mostly in the way he looks at life and people (including himself).
The Rosie Project is one of the best books I’ve read this year and I really recommend reading it to those of you who haven’t yet. Seeing everything through the eyes of Don makes this a very interesting story on many different levels.