The third book in the Rosie trilogy sees Don Tillman – scientist, husband, father, world’s greatest problem-solver – facing a new challenge, this time in the form of his eleven year old son, Hudson.
Don and Rosie have been married for over a decade and things are ticking along nicely (if you ignore a work event where Don is accused of racism, very publicly) until they receive a call from school about Hudson. Ensuing talks reveal the school would like him tested for autism. In response, Don creates The Hudson Project. He will teach his son all the skills it has taken Don a lifetime to acquire, and thus make Hudson more able to fit in. This forces Don to consider his own childhood, how lonely he was, how strange he was seen to be, as well as his relationship with his own father.
Many characters from the earlier books return to help Don face this challenge. Rosie of course, able to read Don and his quirks expertly; his best friend Dave; and father-in-law Phil. There’s also a new career in the form of a bar, work issues for Rosie, a dead pigeon problem, and a very angry fellow parent who takes issue with Don.
I have really enjoyed this series of books, although it’s been a while since I read the others. This one is just as enjoyable as I remember the others being, and it’s nice to see Don so settled in family life, even if he is still having trouble navigating the world a bit. I think the author does a good job discussing autism and the various points of view of how the world responds to it. Don makes a point of how those with autism are accused of failing to show empathy for ‘neurotypical’ people, but that same empathy is not expected to be reciprocated. The world is set up for neurotypical people and anyone who might be different has to figure out how to fit in it, rather than the world being more accommodating for them. Both Don and Hudson’s journey’s reflect this. It’s Don’s instinct to get Hudson to change to fit in better, but Hudson would rather be himself, whoever that turns out to be. It’s nice to see Don’s opinions evolve as he reflects on his own life.
All the main relationships in the book are warm and believable, and there’s immense humour throughout. I think I’d have liked a bit more interaction between Don and Rosie that maybe didn’t involve their son, but as a parent I understand that may not happen that much. Really quick read, highly recommend.