Stephan Lee
October 02, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Rosie Project

Current Status
In Season
Graeme Simsion
We gave it an A-

Move over, Sheldon Cooper. There’s a new brilliant, socially inept scientist poised to win over a huge audience, and his name is Don Tillman, in The Rosie Project.

Don, an accomplished professor of genetics, falls somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum, and his frequent gaffes (the Apricot Ice Cream Disaster and the Jacket Incident, to name a few) have, naturally, prevented him from finding a suitable mate. He undertakes what he calls the Wife Project using a ludicrously exacting procedure: a 16-page questionnaire that asks female prospects to tell him their body mass index and answer questions like Do you eat kidneys? (correct answer: (c) occasionally).

Throwing a wrench into his plan — not to mention his rigidly scheduled aikido regimen — is Rosie Jarman, a quirky bartender who fails the questionnaire big time. She’s a smoker, she’s never on time, and she doesn’t live up to Don’s standard of success. But even though he writes Rosie off as a candidate for the Wife Project (and yes, she informs him that the questionnaire is barbaric), Don enjoys her company so much that he uncharacteristically agrees to a high-risk scheme to help find her long-lost father.

It’s not surprising that debut novelist Graeme Simsion has a background in science — The Rosie Project, already a success in Australia, seems almost precision-engineered to keep readers turning pages. But unlike its unexpectedly lovable hero, this rom-com is bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and intentional humor. A-

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