A really good book has its work cut out for it. It needs to draw you in, making it seem as if you’re a part of the action. It should make you think, drawing parallels and conclusions of your own. And no matter what genre, it must make you feel something; you need to have a personal stake in the outcome, for it to matter.
Fortunately, there are books aplenty that can do those things. What’s a whole lot harder to find is the book that somehow manages to bring pure, unadulterated joy with every page... a non-stop transfusion of feel-good, happy vibes from the written word straight to your brain. (Seriously... what was the last book you can say that about??)
Until a couple weeks ago [and yes, it’s been that long since I finished it... grrr, there goes life, getting in the way again], coming up with something that made me that insanely giddy would’ve been impossible. But then, I came across Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, and everything changed.
Professor Don Tillman is, without question, a nerd. A top geneticist at a major Australian university, he’s a nice-enough-looking chap, and likable, but with all the little oddities and eccentricities one generally expects from such genius. (He also has an undiagnosed case of Asperger’s.) Socially inept? You could say that. (He once argued the science behind tasting ice cream so forcefully that a date walked out on him.) Orderly and precise? Doesn’t begin to cover Don’s habits. (Seriously, he cooks and eats the same meals every week--the identical meal each Tuesday, then the same something-else each Wednesday, and so on, which allows him to use the same shopping list every week.) Fussy? Well, every item in his pantry and fridge has its prescribed place... as does every shirt, sock, and other necessary item in his bedroom and bathroom. Literal? Um, yeah; sarcasm and (most) jokes tend to fly right over his head. Scientific? Absolutely. (His defense of the technical rain parka he wears to a fancy restaurant which requires men to wear suit jackets as “an intelligent and valid choice of attire” is beyond hilarious.) All of Don’s decisions are made with the same level of measured thought behind them, so he can be assured of always making the right choice.
Or so he’s always thought...
After a few less-than-successful attempts at dating (and honestly, it’s not like there’s been a string of eligible women or anything, since the professor would be hard-pressed to recognize a reference to Casanova, let alone take pages from the famed lover’s playbook), Don--acknowledging that he’s a little lonely (and isn’t getting any younger)--comes up with what he’s convinced is a brilliant plan: create a comprehensive survey (dubbed the “Wife Project”) which he’ll pass out to potential mates, then tally the results to find his ideal partner. (An achievable goal? Well, he thinks so. In truth, there might be one woman in a million--no, make that a billion--who would meet his stringent [and uproariously-funny] qualifications, but he doesn't understand that.)
As for the attributes of Ms. Right, well, no drinkers, smokers, vegans, non-exercisers, fashionable women, or makeup-wearers, and no one who isn’t serious about her job, or isn’t a neatnik, need apply--and that’s just for starters. (At least he’s trying to establish a very small pool... very, VERY small.)
When fate (via his best friend, a fellow professor) tosses Rosie Jarman in his path, Don immediately discounts her as a candidate; she embodies every single thing he doesn’t want in a partner, and then some. She does possess a certain something, though... a problem which only an expert such as he can help with: identifying her biological father (whom her dying mother alluded to but never named) from a large pool of “possibles”. Thus is born the “Father Project” (naturally).
Much to Don’s surprise (and a bit to his dismay), he finds himself completely immersed in the Father Project (to the detriment of the Wife Project), and actually having fun whenever Rosie’s around--something he can’t, in all honesty, remember experiencing before. A bartender who drinks whenever she wants, smokes, favors edgy clothes and makeup, and prefers thinking outside the box, Rosie’s also outrageously funny, surprisingly (to him) smart, and incredibly interesting... a whirling dervish of fun and mayhem, whom he gradually comes to realize (long after we do, of course) he doesn’t want to lose.
But, how to put aside nearly every single thing he always thought he valued in a life partner--forcing him to throw the entire Wife Project out the window--and setting out to win the heart of his polar opposite? It’s the “Rosie Project”, of course... the most important project he’ll ever undertake.
I love a great rom-com (romantic-comedy movie, if you’ve somehow missed that cutesy abbreviation until now), but haven’t actually found many... the ones that make me hope dream, swoon, and melt (without causing me to roll my eyes at an overabundance of convenient plot tricks and cliches). Well, The Rosie Project is a frickin’ awesome rom-com... in book form.
I dare you not to fall just a little bit for Don (or not to want to be him, if you’re a straight guy), because despite his oddness and quirkiness, he's impossible not to like and identify with in his earnest (if unusual) pursuit of love and happiness. You’re bound to root for Rosie, too; after all, Don falls for her, against all odds.
The Rosie Project is laugh-out-loud funny, going from being as effervescent as a glass of bubbly to being as deep and rich as a thick slice of pecan pie... and I haven’t felt this much continuous joy while reading a book in... well, maybe ever. :)
GlamKitty Catnip Mousie Rating: Jubilant Mousies to Infinity