Every now and then we’re lucky enough to find a book, a movie or a song that just sticks with us. You know the kind. The ones that get right into your bones and your heart. Like a warm cup of tea on a cold day, you just click.
This happened to me recently with the heart-warming book, The Rosie Project.
I’d seen it talked about on social media, and read about in the newspaper. I’d heard that it was funny, heart-warming, unique and written by a fellow Melburnian by the name of Graeme Simsion. It ticked all the boxes and I couldn’t wait to read it.
From the opening line “I may have found a solution to the Wife Project”, I was hooked, line and sinker.
Now, before I tell you more about the story, I should warn you: this book is addictive. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop.
Ok, here’s the deal …
The Rosie Project is the story of Don Tillman, a socially awkward guy in his late 30’s who doesn’t want to be single for the rest of his life. After having no luck with ‘traditional’ methods, Don, a genetics professor, develops the scientifically sound Wife Project to find himself the perfect woman.
The Wife Project is essentially a survey designed to weed out any unsuitable candidates, based on their behaviours and lifestyles, and match Don with a woman who doesn’t smoke, drink or arrive late to appointments, among other totally unacceptable traits.
As you can already see, Don’s method of finding a wife is riddled with flaws. But Don isn’t like most of us. Although never explicitly said in the book, he possess many common traits of Asperger’s syndrome. The biggest of these is an inability to understand or feel typical human emotions, such as love. Therefore, whether or not he and his ‘perfect woman’ are attracted to one another or share any emotional connections are not considered in the Wife Project.
Now, while the Wife Project is being conducted, Don meets Rosie – an independent, stubborn and smart young woman who smokes, drinks and never arrives on time. Without hesitation, Don adds her to the quickly growing pile of unsuitable candidates, but for various unromantic reasons the pair begin to spend a significant amount of time together.
It sounds all predictable and like your typical romantic comedy. And while it is all of that, it’s also so much more. It’s fast-paced and clever, laugh-out-loud funny and deeply sad, but also hugely inspiring. Because it’s Don’s first person account, we get to see the world from his perspective – emotionless, black and white, keep it simple, but definitely never mean or purposely hurtful.
Having a younger brother with Asperger’s syndrome, I’m naturally interested in the way people on the Autism spectrum view situations and circumstances differently to others. Like Mark Haddon does in his best-selling book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, Graeme Simsion does a superb job of enabling readers of The Rosie Project to see things in a different light, and he does this ever so sensitively with warmth and humour.
Sidenote: In typically nerdburger style, I attended a talk with The Rosie Project author Graeme Simsion at Coburg Library in Melbourne. He explained how The Rosie Project was first written as a script for a film, but after failing to find anyone who would turn it into a movie, he took the big leap and made it into a novel. Since it was first published just two years ago, the book has been translated into over 30 different languages, has won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript, and is **drumroll please** being made into a movie! [Applause!] He’s also writing the sequel to the novel, and that’s due for release in late 2014. [More applause!]
If you need any more convincing to read this book, a) check out the cute trailer below b) take the quiz to find out if you’re compatible with Don Tillman.