Sometimes, you just need to read a story that's sweet and makes you feel good. Graeme SImsion's story of an autistic man on the hunt for love, The Rosie Project, left me feeling happy. This is not to say that the story is overly simplistic or unrealistic. In fact, the complications that our protagonist, Don Tillman, faces makes him an endearing character and his victories even more sweet.
Don is nearly forty and he has never found love. He has a successful career as a tenured genetics professor at a University in Australia and he enjoys his highly routine life. He knows that he would like to also have a relationship, but he is not sure how a girlfriend will fit into his world. Don decides to be systematic about it and sets up a very detailed questionnaire to find a prospective mate.
Don's best friend, Gene ( a philandering womanizer), sets Don up on a blind date, with Rosie, whom Don is under the assumption has passed his ridged questionnaire. Rosie turns out to be the opposite of most of the things that he thought that he wanted and conversely, she is absolutely perfect for him. Naturally, it's not as easy as it sounds, as Don's Aspergers Syndrome hinders his ability to communicate and to pick up on Rosie's emotional cues. Free-spirited Rosie does her best to push Don outside of his comfort zone, trying to get him to let loose from his regimented lifestyle.
This is not a straight forward love story, in fact, the romance is only part of the plot. Rosie has enlisted Don to help her use genetics to find the identity of her father, a man with whom her mom had a one-night stand with back in college. Rosie and Don travel to America in efforts to solve the mystery.
What makes this story so compelling is the way in which Simsion has written Don and the care he has taken to create a character living with Aspergers. Don is written in a way that even when he makes a major misstep, you are rooting for him to get it right the next time. He's funny, warm and he just tries so hard to navigate his life. Rosie is equally endearing, as she shows a great deal of patience with Don and is accepting of the way he is. The only changes that she tries to make are in areas where he needs a little push, like getting him to not eat the same meals on the same days every week. She loves him unconditionally.
Admittedly, there were some plot issues that grew old, especially with the hunt for Rosie's father. The ending felt a little contrived and too neat. However, overall, this is a great summer read. It's a perfect follow-up if you've just read something really intense or heavy. The Rosie Project is light, humorous and filled with likable characters.