Book Worm: 'The Rosie Project' will make you fall in love

Kathleen Duncan

April 30, 2014 at 3:05 p.m.
Updated April 29, 2014 at 11:30 p.m.

Don Tillman is a socially challenged genetics professor with Asperger's. He orders his life according to exacting specifications - from precise food intake to cleaning intervals - he plans every moment of every day for optimal benefit.

In Graeme Simsion's "The Rosie Project," Don only has a few friends and can't seem to find a romantic partner who fits his needs. Frustrated, he develops the "Wife Project."

Candidates fill out an extremely detailed questionnaire made to weed out all the women who are unsuitable to be his mate. Smokers, drinkers, certain body types and personality types can't make the cut.

The predictable but enjoyable plot twist takes form in a spiky redhead with an unconventional personality.

Rosie is a free-spirited barmaid who is thrown into Don's path by a friend. They meet, they interact, and despite all logic according to Don's questionnaire, they connect.

Though Don is continually astonished by her lateness, her smoking, her language and her unpredictable behavior, Don and Rosie find they thoroughly enjoy the time they spend together.

The "Wife Project" is put on hold as Don helps her with her own mission, which he dubs the "Father Project." Rosie is trying to figure out who her biological father is, and Don, who is conveniently a geneticist, offers to help test the DNA of men she suspects might be her possible Pops.

Daily routines take a back seat in Don's new unordered life. His precise schedule is obliterated as he and Rosie visit old friends of her mother's, sneak into social gatherings and travel the country to steal DNA from men's cups, tissues and hair follicles.

Their search is a buoyant and humorous romantic adventure. They squeeze out of tough situations with amusing zeal (and very little trouble) as they slowly build an interest in each other despite their differences.

Though the book does make light of daily challenges individuals with Asperger's may face (physical contact, empathy, understanding gray areas in relation to rules and conventions), the lightheartedness helps to endear Don to readers. Since his challenges are odd but not unsurmountable, they can be understood and ultimately forgotten. It makes him a hilarious yet touching character who readers will adore with little difficulty.

Don isn't sure, with all his social limitations, that he is capable of true love. Like most people, he spends time trying to figure out what that kind of love actually looks like.

Through his quirky escapades, he reminds us that though someone may not express themselves in a conventional manner, it doesn't mean they don't feel emotions as deep and true everyone else.

After much deliberation, confusion and shenanigans, Don figures out that love isn't something you measure or plan or check off on a list.

It's just something you fall into - head over heels, heart over logic - and hope for the best.

Kat Duncan is the photo and video editor at the Advocate. She loves to read, travel, run and play with her pup, Panda. Chat with her about books on Twitter @Kat Duncan_VA.



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