The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Text, 2013. ISBN 9781922079770.
(Age: Adult-Senior Secondary) Recommended. Love. Asperger's Syndrome. Don Tillman is a genetics professor who doesn't fit the mould. He never gets past the first date and has few friends. In his quest to find the perfect woman, he writes a 16 page questionnaire, specifying among other things, that his prospective wife should be a non-smoker, non-vegetarian, punctual and intelligent. Then he meets Rosie, a barmaid who drinks, smokes and is always late. He puts aside The Wife Project to help her find her biological father, in what he dubs as the Father Project.
This is a book that once it is started, is exceptionally difficult to put down. Simsion's writing is humorous and clever and often had me laughing out loud at the antics that Don got up to in The Wife Project, and his life as a professor at the university. Tillman introduces us to the notion that Don has Asperger's when he gives a talk, Genetic Precursors to Autism Spectrum, to a group of parents and children. 'Fault! Asperger's isn't a fault. It's a variant. It's potentially a major advantage. Asperger's syndrome is associated with organisation, focus, innovative thinking and rational detachment.' Pg. 11.
However it is the story of the growing relationship between Rosie and Don that is the focus of the narrative and what kept me reading avidly to the end. The stumbles that Don makes in his relationships are often hilarious, but Simsion sweeps the reader along, ensuring constant empathy with Don as he describes situations that anyone could get into: needing a jacket for a swanky restaurant, misreading ethical situations and longing for love and friendship. Rosie is smart and beautiful, but she too has problems with her stepfather and longs to know who her biological father is. The theme of monogamy is prominent too, with Gene, Don's only friend, in an open marriage and not aware of the effect that his actions have on his family and other people.
Toss in some interesting information about genetics, a road trip from Melbourne to Moree and a flight to New York, fabulous characters and lots of humour and the mix makes this book a winner, certainly a keeper to hand around to friends.