Here are my short notes for this book: “weird nice classic trope with twist”
I will attempt to expound, but please let that list be the barometer for your approach.
Don Tillman, a genetics professor, approaches finding a lifemate (ie: wife) with good-natured objectivity. He’s honest about himself and about his prospects. He’s also discerning. He doesn’t care for smokers, drinkers, or people who arrive late. Don does what most human beings do to find a mate – he compiles a “wish list” and compares all potential matches against it (unsuccessfully).
Enter Rosie, who is quickly dismissed as an acceptable mate. She’s a firecracker, and fun, and she allows Don the leeway he doesn’t often get from people around him. The “classic trope” bit is Rosie and Don’s friendship, despite their differences. The twist is that Don is socially awkward… really really socially awkward. Finding people who continue to choose being around him is a trick.
Further, although Don’s character visibly “arcs” throughout the novel, he never becomes significantly less socially awkward. The takeaway from the tale is ultimately “to thine own self be true.” And that’s pretty twisty for a classic rom-com, which generally involves one or the other character changing significantly.
In other news, this book is a ton of fun. I read it as fiction, not really expecting the main character (Don) to accurately represent the nuances of a high-functioning autism-spectrum adult. Thus, I found the point of view interesting, engaging, and often delightful. It’s possible to find it disturbing or distracting, but that’s if you approach the (rom-com) novel as an accurate, objective case study of a high-functioning autism-spectrum adult. As stated previously, that wasn’t my stance. (You should probably do it my way.)
My two favorite scenes were 1) Don’s lecture to Aspie kids, which resulted in a glorious exchange between the kids and their caregivers (kids win) and 2) Don’s bartending triumph, where his skill set and (usually awkward) social gatherings come together in a fantastic conflagration of glorious performance art.
As if that wasn’t enough, I happened upon www.sleeplessinaustin.com about a week after I finished reading The Rosie Project. (Real-life) Romeo Rose seems like a cad but, upon further inspection, his lists shares a disturbing number of similarities with (fictional) Don Tillman. I found myself wondering who would win in a romantic-charmer cage-fight for the affections of a real-life Rosie.
On second thought, I’m probably being uncharitable toward Don Tillman. Romeo Rose’s list is absolutely ridiculous. Unfortunately, the world may never see socially-awkward Romeo Rose paired up with a beautiful-and-fiesty girl of his dreams. But if you read The Rosie Project you’ll get a hint of how it might go for him… maybe…
I’m keeping The Rosie Project and putting it on the “to re-read” list. I suggest you do the same.