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review 2019-11-29 01:15
"The Rosie Project - Don Tillman #1" by Graeme Simison - Highly Recommended
The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1) - Graeme Simsion,Dan O'Grady

I made an error and dodged this book when it was first being promoted. I'd assumed that any humorous book in which the hero is a neuroatypical man would source its laughter at his expense. I should have had more faith. 


What Graeme Simsion has managed to achieve is a perfectly formed RomCom which works because the hero is neuroatypical. He, like any other romantic hero, has obstacles to overcome, some of which he creates for himself and some of which are created by the people around him, and we hold our breath to see if he can win through. We cheer for him for being himself. We want him to succeed without having to change anything essential about himself. 


Don Tillman, our hero a tenured associate professor of genetics at an Australian university. He understands that his brain is wired differently from most other people's and that, while this gives him many strengths that other people don't have, strong powers of concentration, an excellent memory, the ability to maintain a rational distance when solving problems and an aptitude for being disciplined and organised, his lack of social skills are likely to make it harder for him to find a life partner.


He decides to solve the problem by starting "The Wife Project", a questionnaire-based search for his perfect match. When he meets Rosie, a self-evidently poor match for his search criteria, he gets involved in "The Father Project", helping her to identify her biological father.


"The Father Project" leads Don into many activities he would not normally have considered, some of them illegal and all of them in Rosie's company.


The plot is beautifully structured as a RomCom quest. It has a number of surprising twists and while I wanted Don to succeed, I was kept guessing about if or how this would be possible.


The writing is light but deft. Seeing the world through Don Tillman's eyes is a revelation. While there are some very funny scenes, the main tone of the book is compassionate and hopeful.


I stayed up late because I had to know how things worked out. It was worth the loss of sleep.


I'm glad to see that there are more Don Tillman books. I need to spend more time in Don Tillman's company.


I recommend the audiobook version, brilliantly narrated by Dan O'Grady. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

I'm counting "The Rosie Project" as my Melbourne Cup Day Book Task
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review 2018-04-28 18:35
THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion
The Rosie Effect: A Novel - Graeme Simsion
  This is the sequel to The Rosie Project. Now Don and Rosie are married, living in New Year, and pregnant. Don has many unusual ways to learn about pregnancy and how he'll be as a father. Unfortunately he and Rosie are not communicating well with each other and havoc ensues.

I love this couple! Don is so literal about everything and Rosie does not want to hear it. She's studying and working on her thesis and does not want to be distracted. Don wants to make sure Rosie is not stressed so he keeps secrets which he has not done before. It blows up in Don's face and he almost loses all that is important to him.

There are the returning characters--Gene, Claudia, and their children. There are new characters--Sonia, Dave, George, the 3 B's, Lydia, and others--that Don has to learn to work with or around. I had to laugh as Don plows right through. I'm going to miss these characters. Don and Rosie were fun!
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review 2018-03-13 22:21
The Rosie Project
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion
I’d been meaning to read this novel for a while so I was glad we read it for book club. As a whole, I enjoy this novel. I found myself laughing throughout the novel and I was totally absorbed into Don’s Father Project. I thought the idea of their original projects were a bit odd and I was glad that the novel didn’t focus on Gene’s sex project. As I read, I thought the character of Don reminded me of Sheldon Cooper on TV. Just like Sheldon, Don is very punctual and everything in his life must be “just so”. Don’s life is on a strict timetable, filled in with the greatest of details. There is no filter on Don’s mouth as he tells it like it is for he is not afraid of what comes out. Listening to Don is eventful, for you never know what might happen.
I do have to say that Don created quite the questionnaire for his Wife Project. I would be surprised with all the questions that he asked, if he would find the perfect candidate. I don’t know if I would even answer all those questions myself, if it were given to me. If he was a prince or a rich guy that would be a different story but heck, he is a 39-year-old postdoctoral researcher, that’s the prize?
I loved Rosie’s spunk. I knew right off the bat that she was not compatible for him as she challenges him with her ideas. He’s not the type of person who likes challenges thrown at him constantly. I loved how Rosie cut him off when he was talking, I thought that was funny. I also thought it was hilarious when they were in N.Y. and Rosie was pulling him along for her full two days of fun. He was totally out of his element yet something was happening within him and between them. This novel wasn’t all fun and games as it also contained some sad moments too, unfortunately.
I thought it was a fun, entertaining read and I am glad that I finally read it. It had its ups and its downs (mainly ups) but the character of Don really made the novel.


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review 2018-03-09 19:29
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a hard one for me to rate. There were things I liked and things I didn't like. 

I didn't know anything about this book going into it. I have seen the cover and heard the title in various bookish escapades, but never read the summary. I saw a copy of the audiobook at the library and thought it would be a nice book to listen to in the car on my way to work (I work with children on the autism spectrum).

I did not know that this was a book about someone who (most likely) is on the autism spectrum with what would have been diagnosed in the past as Asperger's. In many ways, Don characterizes the stereotypical attributes of someone with Asperger's (sensory overload problems, preference for schedule and routine, difficulty understanding emotions and social cues, hard time feeling empathy for others and taking the perspective of others). 

Don's character is very open about discussing these topics and how they affect his life. It is clear Simsion did some homework for this book. In that way, I liked the book. Yes, the first-person narration gets a bit annoying at times, because Don speaks in a very computer-based language. This may be typical for some people on the autism spectrum, but it's a little irritating to read as the narration of a novel. Not a criticism, just an observation, as the narration is true to Don's presentation of his character. 

After a while Don kind of grows on you, although I'm with Rosie on the creepy objectifying-ness of the whole Wife Project. Obviously, that is not his intention, but it was kind of weird that it's objectifying nature wasn't discussed more in the text. I understand the difficulty for many people on the spectrum to take others' perspectives (realizing other people are autonomous and do not exist just in relation to you), but as a woman, it still made me uncomfortable that this was such a big element in a rom-com-like story and then wasn't discussed outside of Rosie's sarcastic remarks (that go completely over Don's head, because he cannot read the sarcasm. Dammit, Rosie, just say what you mean already.)

The thing that really bugged me about the book was the "changes" Don makes after meeting Rosie. Essentially, she is his opposite. She's impulsive, messy, habitually late, and doesn't plan ahead. It goes the typical way you'd expect any novel to go that has a red cover and a giant heart on it. The resolution of the book was pretty predictable. But here is what really got me:






Once he decides he wants to be with Rosie romantically, Don magically changes himself into someone who, is still a bit weird, but fits into society for the most part. He drops the computer language when speaking aloud. He's suddenly better at understanding social situations (yes, some of this is due to encounters he had on his escapades with Rosie over time, but all of a sudden he's motivated to change his behavior based on these experiences). And it was all because of Rosie. How sweet. Except that, for real-world people on the spectrum, it's not that easy. In Simsion's world, if a person has a strong-enough motivation, they can overcome the difficulties of Asperger's. They just need to love someone enough to change. This is problematic considering, even children on the spectrum who had parents who love them, advocate for them, and would do anything for them, still struggle, because it's not necessarily a matter of will. As Don says, he is "wired differently". That in itself isn't a problem, as Don shows, since there are plenty of benefits to Asperger's (thinking is a different way than neuroticals to create new systems and solutions, being more time-efficient and detail-orientated), but those social things might be harder.

It's something you learn over time and for a lot of people, it's still a conscious effort. For Don, it was more like, "This is just what I'm going to do. I'm going to be more normal." It appeared effortless all of a sudden, because he had enough love in his heart now to want to change (eye roll). Don has been acting this way for more of his life, now he essentially has to unlearn all of that protocol and replace it with a new understanding. And he does this all in such a short, unrealistic time all by himself. I think the effort and work required on Don's part was overlooked and this ignore's how much people on the spectrum actually do on a day-to-day basis. 

Also... that marriage proposal. Okay, I get that you guys are old, but you haven't even known each other that long. You don't even know if you would be comfortable living together, sleeping together, or having sex with each other. And now you're prepared to get marriage? Chill out and date for a bit, then figure out the marriage stuff. Jeez. It's okay to plan a little. (END SPOILER)

Overall, a decent book that had some good depictions of someone with Asperger's and some not-so-good depictions. In general, I think Simsion did a pretty good writing of one individual's experience with Asperger's, but then it all sort of unraveled at the end like he was just over the whole autism spectrum storyline. 

My only other comment is on the audiobook itself. Dan O'Grady does a good just narrating the book, but sometimes he got a little too-into-character for me. You wouldn't think that would be a problem, but listening to the book in the car while driving proved difficult at times. O'Grady often speaks louder when reading the male dialogue (Why is Gene essentially screaming every line?) while he uses a softer voice, almost a whisper for female characters (I feel like Claudia just said something really important, but I have no idea what it was. I'll have to rewind once I'm done changing lanes.). This led to a lot of volume adjusting and rewinding, which was a bit annoying.

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review 2017-04-29 00:00
The Rosie Project
The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion Lost momentum & will. Just wasn't for me; officially flipping to DNF. (I think I've been reading it > 1 year!)
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