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REVIEW: ‘The Rosie Project’ proves unputdownable

“The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion is almost like Sheldon Cooper meets on steroids.

Don is a brilliant geneticist whose life is extremely regimented. Every minute of his day is planned in an exact schedule that maximizes efficiency.

As someone who struggles to properly interpret social cues, he is single, but he is always looking for someone to spend his life with since, according to research, married men are happier and live longer. It is only logical, then, to find a wife.

But his search has not been going well, resulting in a number of dates he considers a waste of his time as it quickly becomes apparent they are incompatible with his way of life. In a moment of inspiration, Don decides to design a very detailed and extensive 32-page questionnaire as a way to screen women who are clearly unsuitable.

What results is the Wife Project.

Which fails miserably. No one who fills out his questionnaire meets his very demanding requirements, and Don is at a loss as to how to proceed in finding a wife.

His friend, Gene, decides to step in, telling Don he’ll pick out a few women from the list for him to date as practice.

When Rosie walks into Don’s office to settle a bet with Gene, Don immediately asks her out, believing her to be the first woman Gene is setting him up with (she is, she just doesn’t know it).

When their date at the restaurant goes south due to a fight with security after a misunderstanding with the maitre d’ (as an expert in both karate and aikido, Don won), the two decide to have supper at his apartment, where Rosie immediately disrupts his routine by playing her music over his speakers and insisting they eat outside on the balcony.

Despite having a good evening, Don determines that as a late, disorganized, irrational smoker with dyed hair, Rosie is completely unsuitable for the Wife Project.

But he can’t seem to stay away from her, and so the he initiates the Father Project to find Rosie’s biological dad, which enables him to spend more time with her. With two such seemingly incompatible personalities, laughs, and of course love, drive the book forward.

I can’t remember the last time I stayed up until 1 a.m. to finish a book before reading “The Rosie Project.” It was that good.

The setup is great, but what makes it so engaging is the characters. Don has a distinct and unusual way of narrating the novel, but despite his social awkwardness, you can’t help but like him. He’s overly logical and blunt, but he always has good intentions and just wants to be accepted. And Rosie is crazy and fun and the complete opposite of Don, yet clearly perfect for him.

More than just fun characters, Simsion also gives them depth. Don is not immune to his loneliness and disconnect and has suffered the loss of two people close to him that still continues to cause him pain. And Rosie feels lost and rejected because her mother’s husband is not her biological father, and she has no idea who is.

While this is ultimately a love story, I wouldn’t call it a romance novel or chick lit. Driven by great characters and a lot of humor that genuinely made me laugh out loud, “The Rosie Project” draws on multiple genres that makes it appealing to everyone.

And with an option by Sony Pictures, the chances are good this will be made into a movie, and Simsion says he is currently working on a sequel. I’m glad to hear we’re not done with Don and Rosie yet!

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