What happens when a 39-year-old brilliant genetics professor with Asperger’s and, therefore, few social skills sets out to find a wife? He approaches that task the way he approaches all his tasks, i.e. like a scientific project. First, Don Tillman develops a double-sided, 16-page questionnaire, whose purpose is to screen out unsuitable candidates: smokers, the mathematically illiterate, those with body mass index over 26, vegetarians, the perpetually tardy, etc. He then pursues his task with robotic precision (and, not surprisingly, very little luck) – until the most unsuitable candidate walks into his life and turns it upside down. This candidate, sent to Don as a joke, is Rosie, a volatile bartender and a graduate student of psychology. Rosie has a project of her own – she’s trying to find her biological father.
As the story unfolds, Don, a guy who cannot stand being touched, who can barely read social clues or understand people’s reactions, puts his project on the back burner and begins helping Rosie with hers. In the process, an unpredictable thing happens (kind of unpredictable, mind you, it is a romantic comedy after all ) – Don’s Asperger’s gradually gives way to affection and, ultimately, love. And these newly awakened emotions help Don learn how to sympathize with people around him and discover the things that really make him happy.
Graeme Simsion’s “The Rosie Project,” a clever and laugh-out-loud celebration of our individual differences, is a great read for those who like happy endings and also for those who want to start their New Year on an optimistic note. Readers who enjoyed Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” and Toni Jordan’s “Addition” (as well as fans of the TV show “The Big Bang Theory”) will enjoy it, too.