It’s easy to see why Graeme Simsion’s debut novel The Rosie Project was such a huge hit with readers all over the world. It’s one of those books with...moreIt’s easy to see why Graeme Simsion’s debut novel The Rosie Project was such a huge hit with readers all over the world. It’s one of those books with easy to like characters, a straightforward story and just enough quirk to make it stand out from the pack.
Don Tillman is a scientist in the Genetics department at an unnamed university in Melbourne, Australia. It’s obvious from the book’s opening pages that while Don clearly has a super-sized brain, he also has some issues which have prevented him, thus far, from finding a suitable partner. Thus, the Wife Project.
Don’s two friends Gene and Claudia try to help with Don’s project, but Don felt their assistance was lacking. Their approach “was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and negative experiences.” He eventually writes a sixteen-page questionnaire that he hopes will sort the wheat from the chaff.
Don describes everyone he meets by telling us their Body Mass Index and by the time he tells us that he is “thirty-nine years old, tall, fit and intelligent, with a relatively high status and above-average income” and that he should be “attractive to a wide variety of women. In the animal kingdom, I would succeed in reproducing” we know for sure that Don is somewhere on the Autism spectrum.
According to Autism Canada:
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurobiological condition that can affect the normal function of the gastrointestinal, immune, hepatic, endocrine and nervous systems. It impacts normal brain development leaving most individuals with communication problems, difficulty with typical social interactions and a tendency to repeat specific patterns of behaviour. There is also a markedly restricted repertoire of activity and interests. Individuals on the autism spectrum tend to have varying degrees and combinations of symptoms
All things considered, Don does pretty well in the world. Where he struggles is with human interaction. So when Rosie blows into his life, ostensibly looking for someone to help her discover the identity of her biological father, Don’s ordered world is thrown completely off-kilter. That’s when the fun really starts.
There are several laugh-out-loud moments in The Rosie Project, and it is fun to watch socially challenged Don and prickly Rosie work their way towards each other. It’ll make a great movie.
Georgia is the 15-year-old narrator of New Zealand novelist Brigid Lowry’s YA book, Things You Either Hate or Love. I was smitten with her almost as s...moreGeorgia is the 15-year-old narrator of New Zealand novelist Brigid Lowry’s YA book, Things You Either Hate or Love. I was smitten with her almost as soon as she opened her mouth to announce:
I like to think of myself as a brilliant creative person, but sometimes I just feel like a sad lonely girl with a big bum.
Georgia is madly in love with Jakob, the lead singer of a funk band called Natural Affinity. She spends long hours talking to his poster – free therapy – and plotting ways to earn money so she can fly off to Brisbane to see his band in concert.
In an effort to make some money, Georgia tries (and fails) at babysitting, working in a video store and then a bakery, before finally landing as a cashier at the local supermarket. When she isn’t moaning about regular teenage stuff (her mother, school, friends) she’s trying to navigate the fraught path from childhood to adulthood.
Georgia is charming and funny, but lacks any real confidence. She is a character that would definitely speak to a lot of girls. She certainly spoke to my former self. When she ends up working with Hunter, the gorgeous boy who used to come into the bakery, she can’t help but develop a bit of a crush. But she’s sure Hunter could never be interested in a girl like her.
If I have any complaints about the book it’s that the girl on the cover is a misrepresentation of the Georgia in the book – although I have no doubt that Georgia is nowhere near as plain as she thinks she is. Also, Georgia contracts glandular fevor and loses a lot of weight…just in time for the book’s happy ending.
That said, I really enjoyed Things You Either Hate or Love. Georgia is lovely and her trials are relateable without being overwrought. It is a skilled writer who can make a book without an overabundance of teenage drama compelling and entertaining. (less)