Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review: "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion

This was such a sweet book. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way—this book kept me smiling and, clichéd as it may sound, warmed my heart.

Don Tillman is a genetics professor in Australia with social and behavioral tendencies that fans of The Big Bang Theory would find immensely familiar to those of Sheldon Cooper. Bullied as a child, he made the decision to live life as the class clown, so his (often unconscious) way of acting and reacting makes people laugh rather than question why he acts the way he acts. And while he enjoys his perfectly regimented life, with its Standardized Meal System (he eats the same thing on the same days each week) and its down-to-the-minute scheduling of exercise, sleep, shopping, and work, there is one problem. Despite having close friends Gene and Claudia nearby, Don is lonely.

"I am thirty-nine years old, tall, fit, and intelligent, with a relatively high status and above-average income as an associate professor. Logically, I should be attractive to a wide range of women. In the animal kingdom, I would succeed in reproducing. However, there is something about me that women find unappealing. I have never found it easy to make friends, and it seems that the deficiencies that caused this problem have also affected my attempts at romantic relationships."

Don has tried dating women, and many of those attempts have been, well, less than successful, leading to anecdotes he refers to as "The Apricot Ice Cream Disaster," for one. So he does what any other genetics professor would do—launches The Wife Project, complete with a 16-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers, and those who might cause a reprise of The Apricot Ice Cream Disaster.

When Don meets Rosie Jarman, a beautiful bartender who smokes and arrives late, he knows immediately that she's not suitable for The Wife Project. But he's keen on helping her identify who her biological father is, since he has access to his university's lab to run DNA tests, and he has no shortage of plausible (and not so plausible) ways to retrieve DNA from potential candidates. And suddenly, Don realizes how much he enjoys spending time with Rosie, despite the fact he has no interest in her as a partner, and that she keeps causing him to veer away from his perfectly scheduled routine.

Even though The Rosie Project is fairly predictable, Don and Rosie's characters are so charming, so enjoyable, you want to keep reading their story. And while some of Don's behaviors may seem outlandish, again, if you've ever watched Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, you'll realize they're not quite as outlandish as you think. This book made me chuckle, laugh at times, and just kept me smiling throughout. Apparently the book has already been adapted into a movie in Australia, and it definitely seems screen-worthy.

Love cannot be controlled, and it is rarely, if ever, predictable. And neither are people. The Rosie Project is a tremendously enjoyable book that makes those facts immensely compelling.

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