by Graeme Simsion
The Rosie Effect is the sequel to last year’s bestseller, The Rosie Project, which I reviewed here. In this installment, Don Tillman and Rosie are newlyweds. As the novel opens, Rosie announces that she is pregnant. Which totally throws Don for a loop because it wasn’t part of The Plan, at least not yet. Apparently Rosie decided to throw caution to the wind and get pregnant without telling Don her intentions. Probably not a great thing to do to someone who thrives on rigid structure – plus, Rosie is in the middle of writing her thesis, and frankly, the timing of a pregnancy just in the midst of that seems … er, ill-conceived. It was hard to even understand why Rosie would decide to get pregnant at that particular time; even though she’s disorganized and somewhat fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants, she’s utterly committed to her studies and her goal to become a doctor, and refuses to even consider deferring her studies. But I guess a surprise pregnancy was the necessary vehicle to keep the Don and Rosie story going.
As he attempts to come to terms with Rosie’s pregnancy and impending fatherhood, to which he is convinced that he is more and more unsuited, Don’s life becomes borderline slapstick. Meanwhile, Rosie is a cranky meany-pants, and their new marriage is crumbling, and fast. Can Don turn things around? Well, you can probably guess.
I had very mixed feelings about this book. Don is likeable, though Rosie, not so much. The comedy was a little much – it made the story hard to buy into. And the discomfort I felt with The Rosie Project with regard to how autism and Asperger’s are handled, and how that reflects on society’s views on disability, was felt even more keenly. In this story, there is a definite defensiveness about any suggestion of Don being autistic, and that felt very ableist.
It’s a readable story, and if you’re dying to know what happened after the wedding, go ahead and read this. I found it to be rather disappointing.