The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Effect 

Five words from the blurb: marriage, irrational, challenge, life, disgrace

I LOVED The Rosie Project so was very excited about trying the sequel. Unfortunately the two books were very different and The Rosie Effect failed to repeat the magic of the first.

The Rosie Project was special because it was the only novel I’d read which depicted Asperger’s in a positive light. I loved the way it showed the problems faced by those on the spectrum in an amusing manner, without being condescending or judgmental. Unfortunately The Rosie Effect didn’t follow the same formula. Instead it seemed to highlight all the negative aspects of the condition, leading me to become depressed and (occasionally) angry. 

The Rosie Effect begins with Rosie discovering that she’s pregnant. Don worries that he’ll not be a suitable father so sets out to research the best way of dealing with the pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby.  The question of whether someone on the autistic spectrum would make a good parent is a sensitive and divisive subject. Everything written in the book was technically accurate, but I felt it was handled in a bad way. Some of the scenes, particularly those involving Lydia, the social worker, made my blood boil.

I also found that Don had become the typical stereotype of those on the spectrum. His wonderful quirkiness had been reduced to a set of behavioural traits. It was frustrating to see such a fantastic character reach such lows. It is useful for those who know little about autism to be informed about the darker side of the condition, but for those of us who are well aware of the problems it made a difficult and emotional read.

I recommended The Rosie Project to everyone I knew withing the autism community. Unfortunately I’ll be advising those same people to avoid the sequel. I want to give it a low star rating and tell you not to read it, but that isn’t fair because Graeme Simsion is a talented author. This book is gripping throughout and I couldn’t wait to see what happened in the end. It is just a shame that the subject matter was so negative.

I can’t decide whether to give this stars1 for making me so angry and upset or  for being gripping and provoking so much emotion.

What do you think?

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  1. I’m about a third of the way through The Rosie Effect and I have to say I agree with you completely. I loved The Rosie Project, but this one just falls flat. I’m bored more often than not and I dread the moment the child is born. Aside from the one scene in the restaurant and the blue fin tuna incident, the book has left me disappointed.

    1. Jackie says:

      I didn’t really enjoy the first third of the book, but it improves a lot as it goes on. The tuna incident annoyed me a lot. I’ll be interested to see what you think at the end.

  2. Sandy says:

    Ack, that is too bad! I really liked The Rosie Project, and agree it was positive and sweet. And I really trust your judgement here because you are so aware of what is accurate and what is not.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, The sad thing is that this book is accurate. Reading about the dark, difficult side of Aspergers just depresses me. I know it all too well from personal experience :-(

  3. It’s hard for me to say, not havig read the book, but I’m going to go with one star. Mainly because you mention a social worker scene that angered you.

    Social worker scenes are a pecadillo of mine. I’ve several social worker friends who are both very good people, both work with people in very challenging situations and both do it for not very good money, so I really hate it when social workers are portrayed as an uncaring enemy just to give the hero someone to rail against. it’s bad writing, very bad writing, that happens over and over again, espeailly on television.

    I’m just guessing that the social worker scene in this book goes that way. But I bet I’m right.

    1. Jackie says:

      James, Yes, I think you should stay away from this book too. Uncaring social workers probably do exist, but they must be in a tiny minority. I wish they were given a more positive portrayal in literature & TV too.

  4. Trish says:

    Too bad that this one fell so flat and has so many issues after the first one worked so well. I actually haven’t read it but my dad (of all people) recommended to me after he absolutely loved it. I do know what you mean with struggling to give a low rating or a high rating for a book you so disliked but evoked so much emotion within you. I wonder why his first was so positive and this one so negative.

    1. Jackie says:

      Trish, It is probably quite clever that the two books mirror each other – it shows the good and evil side of the same subject. I can see why others like this book, but it was a bit too close to home for me.

  5. I almost never read sequels (though make an exception for Mantel’s Cromwell series). I didn’t plan to read this one, though I did enjoy the first, and probably still won’t.


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