The GIST: Don Tillman is back. The geneticist/data worshiper from Melbourne has arrived at Columbia University with his new wife, Rosie. Living with a partner for the first time is challenging for our protagonist with Asperger’s. A new job, new city, and an unexpected baby on the way overwhelm him with too much to process. The upheavals of pregnancy and parenthood are hard for anyone, but Don’s response is panic. His literal thinking patterns and lack of social dexterity create problems, leading Rosie to question whether he can be a suitable father. Her sad history also causes her to doubt their chance for success as a couple. It all might sound unpleasant, but this story is filled with comical twists and turns. Don’s disorder complicates everything, but his heart is always in the right place. No one can argue with his logic. He manages to collect an adoring circle of friends who put up with his odd behavior because of his golden character and righteous motives. Jaded by the city’s shallow demographic, they appreciate Don for what he is – an imperfect soul with much to offer, despite the extra effort required to connect with him.
The WRITING: Brilliant dialogue and hilarious narration. If you have anyone in your life with Asperger’s, you’ll appreciate the author’s attempt to tell Don’s story – what it must be like to walk through a social world without understanding its cues and subtleties. Simsion balances Tillman’s exceptional intelligence with his childlike approach to interacting with others. The reader laughs at Don’s blunders, but we never laugh at Don. There’s no room to do anything but cherish him. The other characters are equally balanced. A social worker is narrow-minded and prejudiced, but through Don’s eyes we see her challenges and effectiveness. He and his buddy, a refrigerator repair man, rely on each other in unexpected ways. His rock star landlord views Don as his hero. Rosie is damaged and limited in her own way, but Simsion shows us how Don’s unconditional love for her might save them both.
BUY or BORROW? Buy. You don’t have to read The Rosie Project to enjoy this sequel, but I wouldn’t want to miss the beginnings of their relationship.
“Dishonesty was part of the price of being a social animal, and of marriage in particular.”