Deepanker Kaul
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Deepanker Kaul

The Rosie Result: A Book Review

Let me make an honest disclosure at the very beginning — I love the Rosie series. I have absolutely loved all the books in the series and (re)reading these books has a soothing effect on me.

The series, and more importantly its lead Don Tillman, represents for me the silent struggle of operating in a complex social environment that everyone goes through and yet is obscured by those loud and the confident.

Quick Recap

The Rosie series — comprising of three books till now The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect and The Rosie Result — trace the journey of Don Tillman a professor of Genetics who has difficulty understanding human emotions which often end up in faux pas.

The Rosie Project is a romantic-comedy detailing Don’s relationship with Rosie, while The Rosie Effect deals with his struggle of trying to prepare himself for being a father and trying to support Rosie through the pregnancy, despite the fact that emotions are not his strong suit. Inevitably the both the books are filled with Don missing the social cues and “messing up” before eventually making up for all the confusion.

The Rosie Result

Rosie Result is the story of Don Tillman being father to an eleven-year-old, who the world thinks is weird and autistic, just like Don and therefore the threat of being a social pariah seems imminent.

Photo by Harika G on Unsplash

Don takes a number of steps to mitigate the situation as he does not want his child to go through the same problems that he had to brave. Meanwhile he too is embroiled in some controversies of his own that threaten his career and make him question all his choices.

World’s Best Problem Solver

The series kicks off with a session hosted by Don about Asperger’s syndrome to a group of parents of kids who are thought to suffer from Asperger’s syndrome. At the end of the session Don refers to the apparent lack of possible emotions in such kids as a potential strength rather than a weakness in a world where rational thinking is prized but not commonly practiced.

In The Rosie Result, Don concedes that he is in a soup but he is also, according to his wife Rosie, “World’s Best Problem Solver” and therefore all his problems can be solved if he tackles the problems with his usual problem solver mindset.

My biggest takeaway from the series has been the way it humanizes its characters. While most of us may not have a Don Tillman in our lives, he represents each one of us.

Blessed with certain abilities that make us sure of ourselves in a world that makes little sense to us, we all, just like Don, succeed not because of our abilities but because of the people around us. People who cheer us in our brighter moments and who hold us when our world starts to fall apart.

You know that ultimately it’s Rosie, Claudia, Gene or any other character that marks Don’s life and solves his problems while he solves their problems creating a harmonious and symbiotic relationship that we all have or at least need to have.

There is an ever-increasing emphasis on being the best version of who we can, dealing with world, being strong and facing problems. But The Rosie series, it seems to me to ask:

What if we cannot solve our own problems all the time? What if we have no alternative but to need someone else’s help? Don lacks the emotions to feel shame in asking for help, and that is probably better because he is honest about his shortcoming, but are we all?

I like Don Tillman as a character not just because he validates my geeky behavior and my love for spreadsheets but because he embraces his shortcomings.

He knows he is exceptionally smart and yet he never shies to mention when he lacks knowledge on any issue. His simple reason for doing so — he has no other option. He has failed enough to identify the fact that he needs other people and needs to trust others’ judgement in some situations.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Coming back to the book at hand, The Rosie Result makes an interesting point — the entire book is structured around Don helping his kid to navigate the school life but we see that even without his help his child has ideas of its own. Seeking help from other, employing existing skills to help others out and at the very core of it collaborating with people around you to grow together.

The broader question that looms among all the drama aimed at furthering the plot — filled with high school shenanigans, anti-vaxxers, rampant casual workplace sexism and identity politics of race etc. — is that of defining “Normal”.

What is normal? Who is a normal person and who is not? Who gets to decide what is treated as normal and what is to be treated differently?

It treads carefully with a satirical take on political correctness like, for example, the school harassing Don and Rosie because it feels that their child is autistic based on what they see of Don, but at the same time making it repeatedly clear that they don’t call the children “autistic” because the (politically) correct term is to refer to a child as “having autism.”

The Rosie Result tackles the token progressive posturing and asks the uncomfortable questions through the lives and experiences of Don and his family.

We are shown the hypocrisy of the system that prides on being progressive and inclusive but is essentially self-serving, starting from the School system to the University.

All the subtle social commentaries aside, The Rosie Result is a great read for anyone who enjoys a good book. For those who have followed the entire series, I still find The Rosie Project to be the easiest read of the three, but The Rosie Result is deeply profound in its prose and the issues it aims at tackling.

Just like Don Tillman, the books too have matured throughout the series and The Rosie Result represents the pinnacle with its sharp and witty writing coupled with a deeper message delivered in a charming manner.

I cannot recommend it enough and regardless of what your motivation be, I think this gem of a series by Graeme Simsion will make you laugh with its wit and simplicity, and make you cry with its honesty.

If you enjoyed this review, do subscribe to get all the latest posts. I’d also recommend my public policy newsletter The Reluctant Conservative if you’re interested. I also share my book notes and you can find them here on my website.

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