Don Tillman, a genetics professor, leads an efficient, organized, structured existence. He has a standardized meal plan that alternates 7 menus – one for each day of the week. The benefits are that his shopping list is always the same, there is no unnecessary food in the house – only ingredients for the meal plan – thus no waste, and he can cook without thinking – leaving his frontal cortex free to work on something more important, like a science problem. He organizes his day down to the minute: 2 minutes for shower, unless he washes his hair (which adds an additional 87 seconds due to having to leave the conditioner in for 60 seconds), his martial arts training, his bicycle commute, and his lectures. An unexpected interruption could disrupt his whole day. Don has Asperger’s syndrome, which the reader comes to realize, but Don does not. He even gives a presentation on Asperger’s syndrome, but doesn’t see the similarities between the symptoms and himself.
Don has not had much luck with women, but decides genetically that it is time to find a mate. He believes his IQ, health, finances, and social status (all above average) should make him an attractive partner. He creates a “Wife Project” to manage the process of finding a marriage partner. His efficient, logical approach is to cut out the wasted efforts of having to go on first dates only to find out that the candidate is a smoker, drinks too much or is unorganized – all deal breakers. He devises a 16-page questionnaire that prospects must complete before the first date.
As is typical in almost all romantic comedies (or even Mary Poppins and Mr. Banks for that matter), a strict, structured male is disrupted by an uninhibited, lively female; his world changes from black-and-white to chromacolor. Rosie is a perfect disrupter. Rosie fails many points of the questionnaire – she smokes, drinks, is disorganized, and is habitually late. She also is strangely captivating, fiery, and intelligent. And while Don quickly disqualifies her as a candidate for the Wife Project, as a DNA expert, Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father.
When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, some things you can’t and won’t control.
The book is highly entertaining. It is interesting to see the world from an ultra-rational perspective, and how “regular” people employ irrational means to maintain an unwrinkled social fabric. Don doesn’t get telling white lies to protect someone’s feelings, or that, when someone coughs, they just are trying to get the bartender’s attention, or how people can cry at a movie about fictional characters. The book is perfectly suited to the big screen, so a movie is in the works with Jennifer Lawrence as Rosie and Richard Linklater directing.
Watch Bryan on WZZM Channel 13’s “Take Five” morning show at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 1, discussing The Rosie Project. Join The Book Nook’s monthly book club at 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 1 at the Book Nook & Java Shop in downtown Montague for refreshments, snacks, beverages, camaraderie, and discussion; of course, everyone is welcome, and the Club meets all year long.