Don Tillman, genetics professor, is getting married. Or he will be, when his sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey yields a candidate (see: the Wife Project). Designed to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the vegans, the late arrivers, Don’s questionnaire is, for this socially challenged academic, the most logical method to find the perfect partner.
Enter Rosie Jarman.
Don quickly disqualifies her as a potential wife but is drawn into Rosie’s quest to find her biological father (see: the Father Project). When something like a friendship develops, Don must confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie and the decidedly unscientific conclusion that sometimes you don’t find love, it finds you.
To say Professor Don Tillman is quirky would be an understatement. Odd would even be an understatement. Alien might be more up his alley. Don isn’t like other people. He says “greetings,” instead of “hello.” He has a Standardized Meal System and he calculates every minute of every day of daily activities. He doesn’t socialize very well, with an inability to pick up on social cues that come second nature to most. But like you and me, Don would like to find love or at least a partner (a female partner) to spend with for the rest of his life; thus the beginning of the Wife Project.
The Wife Project is a sixteen page questionnaire (more like job application), weeding out the smokers, disorganized and uneducated women that Don is not interested in. This way, he doesn’t have to go on dates or be put through socially awkward conversations to find “the one.” The perfect woman shall be delivered and all without him lifting a finger. Then comes along Rosie.
Rosie is clearly unsuitable and incompatible for Don. She is never on time, is not skilled at math, a bartender and worse yet, she is a smoker. However, she is attractive and Don does find that he can be himself around her and not offend her with his awkwardness. But still, clearly not “wife” material.
Although, it turns out that there is a reason to Rosie’s dysfunctional behavior, she doesn’t know who her real father is. Now normally Don would not see a problem with this, from an emotional standpoint. But from a psychological and genetics standpoint, not knowing where you come from could affect who you are mentally and genetically. As far as Don is concerned, it is his scientific duty to help Rosie find out who her real father is. Or so that is how he rationalizes it to himself.
Now Don is spending all his spare time either with Rosie or working on the Father Project for Rosie. Thus Don finds himself posing as a bartender, pretending to be Rosie’s boyfriend to meet old family friends, flying off to New York and spending a whole week together; all to gather DNA for potential father candidates. Yet Don finds that he actually likes bartending. But even more so, he likes spending time with Rosie. He finds himself opening up to her and abandoning more of the person he was, adapting into someone more social and less calculated. He has even illegally used the university equipment to test candidates for Rosie. Don is doing things that go against everything he believes in and all for a woman. What has happened to Don Tillman? Has he fallen in love?
The Rosie Project is not only a love story but also a story of self improvement and self discovery. The Rosie Project shows us that we are all strangers in one way or another, just trying to fit in, find acceptance with someone, anyone. The Rosie Project also shows us that what we think isn’t always what is. How we see ourselves isn’t always how others see us and vice versa. Perception is in the eye of the beholder and sometimes our eyes can be faulty. But most importantly, The Rosie Project teaches us that age old truth that there is someone for everyone. We just have to be open to the possibility.
Reviewed by Camia Rhodes
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 3, 2014)