Vicky: Dave and I have both read and enjoyed books 1 and 2 of this series – The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect. My book club has also read at least book 1 (we’re a pretty rubbish book club – more a wine and crisps club - so don’t put any store by the fact that many of them won’t have read any further. **Update, one of our members has read all 3 and gave this one a 10/10!!**).
The books are described as feel good and they certainly are, leaving you with a warm feeling and hope about humanity (much needed at the moment) but they are deeper than that.
The books are narrated by a genetics professor, Don Tillman and the first one is about his quest to find true love. Don has never been on a second date and finds social situations hard to read, therefore he devises a chart to find his suitable match. Things understandably don’t quite go according to plan. The second book continues with his relationship.
The books make you smile and even laugh, but only ever with Don the narrator and never at him. His way of describing and relating to the world may not be familiar to many of us but it is intriguing and at times enlightening.
Although I would urge everyone to read all 3 books, it’s the third book that I felt was worthy of a mention on this blog as it relates to a lot of discussions held within the wider disability community and touches on subjects that we discuss in our training. Unfortunately, RNIB Talking Books have not yet caught up, so Dave has been unable to read it yet.
This third book, ‘The Rosie Result’ is set later in Don’s life when he also has a son, Hudson. The book covers a year in their lives and, with lots of anecdotes along the way, uses situations and other characters to cleverly raise questions about acceptance and fitting in, making the reader consider that maybe this shouldn’t be a one-way street, i.e. it shouldn’t all be about the person in the minority feeling pressurised to fit in with the majority.
There’s a great analogy at one point by a speaker talking about the social model of disability – ‘Imagine everyone used wheelchairs except you and society was designed to accommodate them, you’d knock your head on door frames and have to ask for chairs at restaurants.’
It’s a great read and one that should have us all questioning how we behave and react in society. I don’t want to ruin the story for you but a few quotes will hopefully give enough of a sense of this book to encourage you to read the series…
‘Hudson preferred to wear the summer uniform, with shorts throughout the year. The school rules specified that Years 5 and 6 boys were to wear long trousers in the cold season, other than in exceptional circumstances. Hudson had argued that as he was the only student who wanted to wear shorts, he was exceptional, and therefore should be accommodated. After extensive discussion, the school agreed.’
Talking about ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) ‘Psychologists and parents love it. Of course they do, because that’s who it’s for – not for the kids being trained like puppies…She’s being trained to spend her life seeking approval from others.’
‘…a lot of people think autistic people are weird and uncaring…my parents and teachers tried really hard to help me fit in because they didn’t want people to think I was autistic and then assume those things about me…but it took a lot of work that I could have spent on other things…what I learnt is that autistic people shouldn’t have to do all the changing’
‘I’m not a person with autism any more that I’m a person with lesbianism. I’m lesbian, I’m autistic. When I get a cold, I have a cold; I’m a person with a cold and I want to get rid of it. Medical help appreciated. But being autistic and lesbian, that’s who I am, and I’m not interested in anyone trying to cure me of who I am.’
‘I would never have the intuitive sense of others’ emotions that supposedly is needed to deal with interpersonal problems, but I had done my best using rationality, experience and hard-won learning about human behaviour and these skills had been sufficient.’
And the final word must go to Graeme himself:
‘This series of novels was inspired and informed far more by life experiences – my own and others’ – than research. Thanks to everyone – all of you – who contributed to those.’
We urge you to read these books and let us know your thoughts!
Dave: Well, all that has done Vicky is make me want to read it; it sounds intriguing and interesting. Come on RNIB… how long will I need to wait until this book is available in an audio format?
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
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Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.