These are the latest reads in my stack chosen for max reading ease and fun during this time of sleep deprivation and only being able to read in 10-page snatches (I didn’t envisage not being able to hold a book while breastfeeding a squirmy 9-week-old… why didn’t I create my stack on Kindle?)
First up, The Rosie Result, the final instalment in Simsion’s trilogy of general fiction comedy-romances about “on-the-spectrum” Don Tilman and the love of his life, Rosie. In this part, a decade or so after the events of the second book, Don and Rosie’s son Hunter is on the cusp of adolescence. Also considered – by his teachers at any rate – “on the spectrum”, Hunter’s struggling to fit in at school, so Don quits his professorial job to be a stay-at-home dad for Hunter and help him navigate all the social minefields Don himself faced as a misfit teen.
The first two in the series flirted only subtly with the topic of autism and instead focused mainly on Don’s misadventures in winning, then hanging on to, the beautiful and forthright Rosie. But while sticking with the sit-com plot, this final book really gets to grips with the elephant in the room and zeroes right in on this thorniest of subjects, autism and the choice to seek a diagnosis for it; both for Don and for Hunter. It’s a sensitive, topical and thought-provoking exploration of how autism and the “spectrum” is viewed in society today, as well as the school system’s treatment of kids who are just a bit different, making it relevant for every parent who’s ever shepherded a smart or sensitive child through school. Yet it never makes you feel like you’re being spoonfed or lectured to. The plot is as headlong as ever, the writing as sharp and funny, and the conclusion as satisfying and heartwarming as we’ve come to expect from Simsion. If you haven’t read the Rosie series, I would recommend it to just about anyone – men, women, even young adults. It’s just pure unalloyed reading pleasure, general fiction at its best.
The second read, The Best of Adam Sharp, tells the story of middle-aged software engineer and amateur piano player Adam. He’s a thoroughly ordinary man but he’s been given one sudden, extraordinary chance: to rekindle a decades-lost romance with the beautiful and compelling Angelina, the “one who got away” when they were in their twenties. This is a whisker closer to romance than general fiction, and is somewhat less comedic and compulsive a read than the Rosie novels, probably because of the large amounts of past-tense backstory introduced in the first half. They’re necessary, but they do slow it down a tad. But it’s still highly readable, and there are added layers of complexity and surprise to the plot, as Simsion builds to the climax, that keep you guessing right up until the end. A good holiday read, but if you haven’t tried Simsion before, start with The Rosie Project.