If you recall correctly, I was quite enamored with the character Don Tillman in Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. I could hardly believe my eyes when, just a few short weeks ago at my favorite Barnes & Noble in Union Square, I spotted a sequel to this lovely novel. I had no idea it had even been written! Extreme delight ensued.
And then I read it.
Don is just as charming in The Rosie Effect, he and Rosie move to New York after getting married so I obviously enjoy those references, but the major focus of the book is what I have a major problem with: Rosie is pregnant, and she got that way by not taking her birth control without telling Don. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! That’s a HORRIBLE way to start a family, especially if the new married couple in question hasn’t even DISCUSSED it, which is the case in this (fictitious, I know) story. Don, already a knowingly emotionally detached and outrageously logical person, is completely blindsided by the news, and he doesn’t really cope with it in the best way — through no fault of his own, if you ask me.
First, Don has an actual panic attack when Rosie tells him the news. As someone who has suffered from quite a few of those, and as someone who is completely terrified by the possibility of having children, I totally understand the reaction, but Rosie doesn’t. Then he starts to get sciencey about it and researches all things pregnancy so that Rosie does everything right for the health of their baby, who they’ve come to call Bud (Baby Under Development), which royally pisses Rosie off. She doesn’t want the constant technical commentary from Don, as she thinks it undermines her abilities as a mother. Third, Don decides to start “studying” children by recording videos of them on his phone at a playground, which you can imagine doesn’t go well. He doesn’t even tell Rosie about this, but it starts a series of incidents that he keeps secret from Rosie — including meeting with a social worker/therapist and having their friend Sonia pretend to be Rosie — further straining their relationship while she just keeps getting more and more pregnant. Finally, they decide to end their marriage.
I didn’t ruin the ending, I swear! The ending of the marriage goes on for probably about the last third of the book, and for that entire third I was very upset. Don is not just super-organized and weird, he actually has a medical deficit that prevents him from feeling the same emotional connection to a developing baby that most other humans do, which perhaps SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISCUSSED BEFORE ROSIE STOPPED POPPING HER BIRTH CONTROL PILLS ON THE DAILY. I really felt very defensive of Don throughout the whole book — he copes with a drastic life change the best way he knows how, yet he can’t make the one person who really matters see that. They eventually sort of work it out, but…Still. Pretty bothered by the whole thing. Obviously.
I shall now return to my regularly scheduled programming of ridiculously silly British chick lit and read some new Jill Mansell next.