“The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion

If you can’t find the humor in autistic moments, you should not only escape this post, but this entire site, immediately.

The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Series: Don Tillman #1
Published by Simon & Schuster on 1 October, 2013
Genre: Comedy, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
# pages: 297
Source: Amazon

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project seems to have a lot of negative reviews on various places across the ‘net, but I can only assume it’s because it’s full of autistic humor. I was actually recommended this book by a friend who was reading it, because it was hilarious to her, and I’d revealed to her I’m autistic. It was quite some time ago. Back to the autistic humor part, though: a lot of people are offended—especially allistic people—at the first second of autistic humor. I can’t even say, “Autistics rock!” without having an allistic family member tell me I’m disrespecting the community.

Um…but we really do. It’s stimming. It’s like when allistic people rock out to their favorite songs, but…ten times better. Whatever, though.

The Rosie Project follows scientist/professor Don Tillman on his journey to find a wife who fits his checklist—yes, he has a romantic ideal. Unfortunately, Rosie happens, and she’s everything he never once expected nor wanted, but he can’t get rid of her.

Also, this is actually the story that inspired me to create Wesley Novak.

Don Tillman and the plot

If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, Don Tillman may remind you a lot of Sheldon and Rosie of Amy. Don attempts to please his dates, keeping a lobster in the bathtub for an unexpectedly vegetarian woman (imagine the horror) in one incident. He has a questionnaire he asks when speed-dating, and…well, that’s just gold all on it’s own.

“I’ve sequenced the questions for maximum speed of elimination,” I explained. “I believe I can eliminate most women in less than forty seconds. Then you can choose the topic of discussion for the remaining time.”

“But then it won’t matter,” said Frances. “I’ll have been eliminated.”

“Only as a potential partner. We may still be able to have an interesting discussion.”

“But I’ll have been eliminated.”

I nodded. “Do you smoke?”

“Occasionally,” she said.

I put the questionnaire away.

“Excellent.” I was pleased that my question sequencing was working so well. We could have wasted time talking about ice cream flavors and makeup only to find that she smoked. Needless to say, smoking was not negotiable. “No more questions. What would you like to discuss?”

Don Tillman’s an Aspie who knows it, and Simsion portrays the autistic tendencies well.


Apple rating: 4.5

I read this book within a night because I couldn’t put it down. I was so, so happy to have finally found a romantic fiction novel I could nod my head to and feel the embarrassment/anxiety the protagonist was feeling. As an autistic, it’s important for me to be able to feel these things from reading a book, too, because when others read, they’re usually saying how a certain book reminded them of their first crush, or helped them to not feel so alone.

I usually feel alone when I read books, because the characters are rarely autistic, and allistic characters don’t have the same problems, thoughts and/or feelings as autistics do…and they don’t act the same.

I’ll end this with the following quote from The Rosie Project:

And it dawned on me that I had not designed the questionnaire to find a woman I could accept, but to find someone who might accept me.

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Comments on this post

Ah. I’m so glad you liked this one. I thought it was great, personally, but I’m not Autistic, and it had a lot of negative flack everywhere. I think back when I read it, I was able to find a lot of “weird” things my boyfriend did, and was like, “Oh… okay… so this might have been what the logistics for that was…” Anyways. I’m glad this one passed the Jane test on autism and portraying autistic characters properly. 🙂

What do you mean by “negative flack”?

And haha, yeah…it’s a hard test. 😉