Often defying logic: “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion

An inability (or reduced ability) to empathize is not the same as an inability to love. Love is a powerful feeling for another person, often defying logic.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
304 pages, Simon and Schuster, October 2013

When I start hearing that a book is AMAZING and LIFE-CHANGING and OMG YES NOW YOU MUST READ THIS I almost always tune out. I like to stumble upon books. I often feel that books get built up too much, and then they can’t be anything but a disappointment.

Sometimes, however, I am pleasantly surprised. I like pleasant surprises. I think life hinges on them.

Don Tillman is a professor of genetics. He has trouble getting along in social situations, although he’s brilliant, scientifically. He wants a wife, and realizes he can apply his scientific skills toward getting one: he creates a questionnaire covering everything he wants in a partner and proceeds in giving it to women (or taking it for them under tables while they’re on dates.) Enter Rosie: she’s completely incompatible in almost every way, so Don writes her off as a potential partner. Only love’s not really able to be contained in a lab or on a spreadsheet or in a questionnaire, is it?

I fell in love with these people. Don, with his rigid rules and structures and schedules and inability to understand feelings or emotions; Rosie, with her fiery personality and fierce need to know (know what? hell, everything – Rosie’s amazing); Don’s friend Daphne, slowly losing her past; Rosie’s stepfather Phil, unable to communicate with his daughter. I rooted for Don. I cheered for Rosie. I laughed and I cringed and yelled “Good grief, Don, NO” and there were a number of places where I cried some very unflattering tears.

It’s not a stupid book. It raises some interesting questions. How much of love is science, and chemistry, and how much is that magic and that mystery you can’t put a finger on? Can you pigeonhole love like this? Does it just happen? Can you stop it once it does? Can you plan for it? We all think we have answers about this, based on past experience, and the stories of our friends, but it’s new every time, isn’t it? It’s different for all of us. So how will it be when it comes for you? And will you recognize it, or let it get away from you?

But is this high art? Did I learn huge truths and was my mind stretched and did I come away thinking I’d read an award-winning tome answering all the mysteries life had to offer?

Oh, hell, no. This is most definitely one step up from Nicholas Sparks. I’m laboring under no preconceptions.

But it’s happy, and it’s true, and it leaves you with that really good feeling in your chest, that you got to share some time with these people and they left you better for it.

I love things like that. Almost as much as I love pleasant surprises.

At some point, you’re going to want to read something like this. Something that makes you laugh and cry and cheer a little. Grab it. Go meet Don and Rosie. Go learn a little about love and science and the magic of New York City and marriage and friendship and family. Go, go, go.



  1. Charleen

    This was a really cute book, and if there’s one thing I really love about it, it’s that you hardly ever get a romantic comedy from the guy’s perspective, and I thought this one did it beautifully. Oh, Don…

    • lucysfootball

      I didn’t even think of that! That’s a really good point! I loved getting it from Don’s point of view. And I loved Don. (Wouldn’t it be kind of neat getting it from Rosie’s point of view, too? I’d love to know what was going through her head in some of the scenes!)

  2. bookmammal

    I feel much the same way as you do about this book–I was skeptical because of all the hype, finally decided to give it a try, and really enjoyed it–but is it an extraordinary book? Not really–but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile read!
    I found it a bit difficult to get into the rhythm of Don’s language, but once I did it was a fairly quick read. I was rooting for Don at the end!

    • lucysfootball

      It’s definitely not anything higher-order, but it’s so, so enjoyable. I loved both Don and Rosie (Gene made me want to punch him, though.) I read a lot of deeper things. Sometimes I just need to give my head a little break. This was perfect for that. (And not poorly-written – even when I want a break, I need it to be a GOOD break!)

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