It’s hard to resist a book when even Bill Gates has stamped it with his seal of approval.
The Rosie Project, recommended to me by a close friend, is a rather unusual story about some rather unusual people. First there’s Don Tillman, a socially awkward Asperger’s-sufferer who employs a strict routine to keep his life in order. Used to being laughed at for his strangeness, he has accepted his role as the would-be “class clown”, even in the high-end university where he works as a chemist and professor. Struggling to find women to date, Don decides to create a questionnaire that will immediately eliminate women with whom he doesn’t have anything in common.
Enter Rosie, a leather jacket-wearing, red-hair young woman who needs Don’s help finding her biological father. She’s an abrasive, in-your-face kind of person, the exact opposite of what Don is looking for in a mate. But against his better judgement he agrees to help her, and so begins a funny, lively story about two people with almost nothing in common who forge a relationship against the odds.
Rosie is a tricky character to like. She’s quite self-absorbed and cold, sometimes bordering on cruel. She searches for her biological father while keeping the man who raised her at arm’s length, and she repeatedly puts Don through emotional turmoil, fully knowing she is doing it.
Don isn’t a perfect person either. He can be mean without intending to be and he often hurts peoples’ feelings as he tries to navigate social situations. He bends – and then breaks – university rules to help Rosie, a woman who he barely knows.
So, for me, it isn’t the characters that make The Rosie Project so special. Rather it is the intense, blunt humour that Graeme Simsion has woven into the story that will really draw you in. Simsion employs what I like to think of as the “if you didn’t laugh you’d cry” brand of humour. He writes about Don, a man who, despite having a great job and some good friends, is clearly struggling and feeling the burden of loneliness every day, with a light-hearted touch. It’s not so much that’s he’s brushing off the intensity of Don’s problems, but rather that he’s trying to show that happiness and humour can invade even the darkest of situations.
The Rosie Project explores familial, friend, and romantic relationships, showing what it’s like for Don to navigate in a world that he’s uncomfortable in. As his relationship with Rosie increases in intensity, Don has to step out of his comfort zone and try new things, sometimes with disastrous (but hilarious) results. The colourful language and wonderful scene-setting in The Rosie Project will make the reader feel like a part of Don and Rosie’s world.
Even if you aren’t a big fan of love stories, The Rosie Project is unique and funny enough to draw you in.