The Rosie Result (Don Tillman, #3)

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I had observed that neurotypicals criticised autistic people for lacking empathy — towards them — but seldom made any effort to improve their own empathy towards autistic people.”

Boom. What a statement, and so incredibly true. My sister is totally empathetic, yet neurotypical people tend to cast aspersions on her for being “weird” aka atypical.

The third book in the Don Tillman trilogy is a vast improvement from the second go-around, which was so painful that it almost sullied the memory of the first novel. The Rosie Result takes place 11 years after the previous installment and focuses mostly on Rosie and Don’s child Hudson.

If you know anything about the series than you know that the protagonist is Don Tillman, a man that has all the signs of Asperger’s without the diagnosis. Don knows he’s different, but he has never felt the need to label himself. His wife is neurotypical, though definitely eccentric, and the two have managed to have a happy life together both in New York City and in their home country of Australia. It should come as little to surprise to anyone that their son Hudson is exhibiting signs of autism as well. There are a lot of studies that show autism is often hereditary and that if one child has autism, other siblings tend to have it as well. Though, for whatever reason, I am neurotypical while my sister is an “aspie.”

The book spends an inordinate amount of time with Don trying to normalize his child, so that he will be accepted by a school that claims tolerance but offers little in reality. Don’s limited first-person POV almost drove me away from this book. During the entire story, Don checks off a series of behaviors that he views as “autistic,” and any time his son doesn’t exhibit one of these behaviors, Don heaves a sigh of relief. For instance, Hudson shows empathy and laughs at jokes, and autistic people aren’t supposed to have empathy or senses of humor. I have to say, I found these scenes infuriating, because Don, a usual rational man, was giving into the stereotypes that surround autism. I wondered how an author who purportedly had been researching autism could have gotten everything so wrong.

But then the last quarter of the book flips everything on its ear. Hudson tells his dad he is autistic despite not fitting the narrow stereotypes, and instead of being embarrassed by it, he’s proud of it! Don realizes that stereotypes are hurtful and oftentimes untrue, and that if his son can accept himself as he is, Don can finally accept his Asperger self.

There are a lot of side plots that weave their way through the book, but they all center on acceptance and understanding. My second-favorite plot involved Don’s incident at the university. Some SJW got it into her head that he was “racist” and baits him with a question. Don, not realizing he’s being set up, answers the student’s question in typical Don fashion and ends up being fired. The board promises to go easier on him if he just admits he’s autistic, but Don refuses to capitulate. Simsion shows how ridiculous political correctness has gotten when one form of minority (a woman) can oust a different form of minority (autistic) for being “racist” to a third type of minority. Life would be so much better if instead of taking offense at everything a person says, you actually stop and listen to them and try to broaden your own narrow view point. The student was so convinced Don was racist, she didn’t even give him a chance to explain before pointing fingers at him and acting “triggered.” A society is not going to last long if every little thing sets a person off and makes them hate another human being.

The one side plot I didn’t appreciate was Simsion’s view on alternative medicine. Simsion made it no secret that he thought supporters of alternative medicine are all idiots. This is such a narrow-minded view of alternative medicine that it sticks out in a book that is all about tolerance and inclusiveness.

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