The BUZZ: Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2013. Not sure how I missed this one last year. Optioned for the big screen by Sony Pictures.
The GIST: Narrator Don Tillman is a brilliant genetics professor at a prestigious university. He decides at age 39 that it’s time to find a wife. This presents a challenge, as he has never had a second date due to his lack of social skills. Even after preparing and presenting a lecture on Aspergers, he doesn’t connect that the disorder might describe his own functioning. With the help of his two only friends, he embarks on the Wife Project, preparing a lengthy questionnaire to rule out the non punctual, vegetarian, creationist homeopaths. Hilarity ensues as his literal, logical mind engages with the chaos of the real world. Simultaneously, he agrees to help a PhD student identify her biological father. The beautiful Rosie is a smoking, vegetarian, chronically late, foul-mouthed bartender who satisfies none of his requirements for a partner, but Don falls for her anyway. His orderly, scheduled existence must change to accommodate this inexplicable truth that goes against his grand plan.
The WRITING: Witty and crisp. I felt bad initially, laughing out loud at Don’s disordered, literal interpretations of what was going on around him. But Simsion’s characterization is whole-hearted and endearing, and I was soon rooting for the virtuous Don on every page. The author makes it easy to identify with the narrator. His challenges may be part of a disorder, but they’re not far removed from what we all face – like the battle between logic and emotion, or conformity versus individualism. We have to agree halfway through the book that it’s our differences that make us grow. The challenge of getting along with others who don’t think the way we do provides us with our greatest source of development and transformation. Simsion creates a story in which our human imperfections are glaring, but at the same time, fertile ground for substance. An unexpected twist at the end kept me on my toes. Originally written as a screenplay, this debut reads like a perfectly scripted romantic comedy. But its themes are much richer than that, and farther reaching.
BUY or BORROW? Buy. Be sure to read it before the movie comes out! It will be a good one, and not just a chick flick. A very intellectual guy recommended this gem to me.
QUOTE: “Humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others.”