For Don Tillman—a brilliant, if socially awkward, genetics professor—order is a way of life. Methods, schedules, and data are his language. Until recently, Don had never had a second date. Then he got serious about finding a life partner, created a sixteen-page questionnaire (see: The Rosie Project) to find the perfect match, and met and fell in love with Rosie Jarman (“the world’s most incompatible woman”). Now living in New York City, they have survived ten months and ten days of marriage.
Though the fiery Rosie has taught him the joys of unscheduled sex and spontaneous meal planning, Don is still learning the principles of optimal cohabitation. He is certainly not prepared for the mother of all surprises:
Rosie is unexpectedly expecting.
Soon Don must face the biggest challenge of his previously regimented life—at the same time he’s dodging deportation, prosecution, and professional disgrace.
Is Don ready to become the man he always dreamed of being? Or will he revert to his old ways and risk losing Rosie forever?
Don Tillman has finally found love and he is happily married to the most beautiful woman in the world, Rosie. Yet the most beautiful has informed Mr. Plans-everything-out that she is pregnant and he had not planned for such a thing. Now not only does Don have to handle life as a married couple, but prepare for fatherhood as well.
Don does not believe he will be a good father and it doesn’t help that some believe the same. And with the advice from a friend of one of Rosie’s friends, that Don should not have children, he is even more convinced he cannot be a good father. Plus, there is the fact that he and Rosie are living in a small apartment in New York and Don being the one with any real income while Rosie is still in school, how will they afford to raise a baby?
Not having too many friends with children, Don decides to illicit some advice from Gene, his best friend and father to two of his other friends, Carl and Eugenie. However, Gene’s marriage is over and Claudia, Gene’s wife, has thrown him out. Being the problem solver that Don is, he gets Gene a job at Columbia and asks him to move in to the apartment. Now Don can get the advice he needs and have his best friend by his side.
So far so good, except for Rosie’s disapproval of Gene staying with them. But Don still is afraid he will not be able to connect with the Baby Under Development or BUD for short. So Gene suggests that Don watch children at play to study their behaviors and learn how to relate to his unborn child. And Don being Don, he took that to literally mean “watch children play.” Thus the next thing Don knows, there are cops, an arrest, and a referral to a therapist.
Not wanting to cause Rosie stress, Don hides “The Playground Incident” from her, however, there is still the dilemma of a future assessment with him and Rosie; said Rosie who was unaware of “The Playground Incident.” So he seeks advice again but this time he goes to his friend Dave’s wife, Sonia. And Sonia agrees to pretend to be Rosie so that Don may pass his assessment and avoid adding stress to Rosie and BUD.
In Don’s mind, all the problems have been solved, aside from the first issue of connecting with the unborn child. Yet Don forgot about one thing: maintaining his marriage with Rosie and proving to her that he can be a good father. And Don being Don, takes Rosie’s pregnancy as a learning experience of human development, constantly informing Rosie of what to eat, to drink and how to experience. While just trying to be helpful, Rosie takes this to mean that Don is telling her what to do and control the pregnancy, all the while, still neglecting to show emotion towards BUD and this pregnancy.
Now Rosie is sleeping in her study and working longer hours, as if to avoid being around him. Thus all of Don’s attempts to bond with BUD go unnoticed because he feels that by telling Rosie he would be essentially trespassing on her territory of pregnancy. And to make matters worse, Rosie is thinking about returning to Australia. Is their marriage over before it even begins? Will he even be a part of his child’s life? How can he prove to Rosie, and even more so, to himself, that he will be a good father to this unborn child?
The Rosie Effect teaches us that you don’t have to be who everyone claims you to be. The Rosie Effect also teaches us that you don’t have to be who you once were. That you can change and be whoever you want or need to be, especially for the one you love. But most importantly, The Rosie Effect shows you that while you cannot always escape your past, you can learn from it and choose not to let it affect you.
Reviewed by Camia Rhodes
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (December 30, 2014)