Cute. Adorable. Sweet. These are the words that come to mind immediately when asked to describe The Rosie Project. Oh, and funny.
Don Tillman, an Australian professor of genetics who has some personality differences, decides that it’s time to get married. Naturally, he doesn’t want to waste anyone’s time, so he develops “The Wife Project” complete with multi-page questionnaire designed to weed out those who wouldn’t make appropriate wives. The project introduces him to Rosie, whose interest in finding her biological father leads to “The Father Project.” Don finds himself totally entranced by Rosie, despite the fact that she totally fails the questionnaire and would be a completely unsuitable wife. Can you see where this is going?
I couldn’t help but fall in love with Don myself. The fact that he’s a little clueless to social customs and has an excessive fondness for routine only adds to his charm. Even though the novel is related in first person from Don’s point of view, the reader often knows more than Don does, and this adds to the pacing of the book. Add the element of wanting to know who Rosie’s father is, and you’ve got a bit of a page turner. Don is incredibly smart and funny, and I found myself laughing out loud frequently. “Research consistently shows that the risks to health outweigh the benefits of drinking alcohol,” he informs us. “My argument is that the benefits to my mental health justify the risks.” The people in his life—his best friend on campus and his wife, his family, and his boss—are not as well-rounded as they might be, but since the novel is from the perspective of someone with a unique view of the world, this is not unexpected and kind of makes sense. Rosie, ah, Rosie. She’s the one person who’s totally honest with him and seems to appreciate his differences rather than try to accommodate them. Maybe it’s because she’s a little unique herself. It’s truly delightful to watch her fall in love with Don, challenging his routines and rigid understanding of the world, all while enjoying him just as he is.
The Rosie Project isn’t brain candy. It’ll make you think about any number of issues from autism to alcohol to authority of a parent. But it does so in a way that is sharp and humorous, never depressing, lovely language, and a fresh take on what it means to be meant for one another.