I might sound more harsh than I intend or than is warranted, but I really am sick of the trope of neuro-atypical people not understanding our strange human ways. I haven’t seen anything but clips of the Big Bang Theory, but the Sheldon Cooper type – wacky misunderstandings! – grates on my nerves; autistic people don’t walk around like automaton slaves to logic any more than depressed people walk around in tears all the time. This book doesn’t lean hard into the wrong lane, but it’s got a toe over the line.
The Rosie Project refers to our autism-spectrum protagonist Don’s search for a wife. He outlines the qualities a perfect candidate for a spouse should have, enlists the help of his fellow college professors in selecting dates, and predictably finds that what he thinks he wants is not what he actually needs. Actually, The Rosie Project is an offshoot of The Wife Project – one of the “worst” candidates, Rosie, wants to know who her biological father is, and Don covertly helps her DNA test the likely suspects. Shenanigans ensue.
This book was very cute, and it’s obvious that the author means well. Don’s autism is never mocked, and it’s clearly not seen as something about himself that needs to change; at the climax of the book he even stays true to himself even as it goes against his wishes. But again, the magical autistic who can learn how to be the perfect bartender just by reading a book about it and practicing one night feels a bit like the madonna/whore dichotomy of the neuro atypical world.