The Rosie Result
Don and Rosie are about to face their most important project.
Their son, Hudson, is having trouble at school: his teachers say he isn't fitting in with the other kids, and they'd like Don and Rosie to think about getting an autism assessment. As his parents debate whether a diagnosis might help or hinder, Hudson has his own ideas. Meanwhile, Rosie is battling Judas at work, and Don is in hot water after the Genetics Lecture Outrage. The life-contentment graph, recently at its highest point, is curving downwards.
For Don Tillman, geneticist and World's Best Problem-Solver, learning to be a good parent as well as a good partner will require the help of friends old and new. It will mean letting Hudson make his way in the world, and grappling with awkward truths about his own identity.
And opening a cocktail bar.
Text Publishing Company, 9781925773828, 386pp.
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. Much of the humor in the Rosie books comes from Don misreading social situations and cues. How does Simsion make us laugh at Don’s interpretations and the comedy that follows from them without making us laugh at Don himself? Or doesn’t he?
2. Don has previously not seen himself (or perhaps not allowed himself to see himself) as autistic. Why does that change in The Rosie Result? Why has Simsion decided to have Don be open to the idea of himself as autistic?
3. How do you think the changes in how people understand autism in the last few years since the first Rosie book was published are reflected in The Rosie Result?
4. When trying to work out whether Hudson fits on the autism spectrum, Don sets his behavior against common ideas about how autistic people behave. For example, when Hudson makes a plan to secretly take Blanche to an eye doctor, Don contrasts that with the idea that “autistic people are poor at deception” (191). How do Don, Hudson, and Blanche conform to and challenge stereotypes of autistic people? What does this say about the similarities and differences between autistic people?
5. Don’s confidence that he is a good problem-solver wavers. Do you think he is a good or bad problem-solver? Is this because of or despite his autistic traits?
6. Don is “conscious of the human propensity to see patterns where they do not exist” (1). Does Don share this trait? Do you agree that it is an essentially “human propensity”? Is it a necessarily bad trait?
7. Don values rational thinking as “arguably life’s most important skill” (117), and sees emotion as its opposite (182). What do you think?
8. Rosie imitates Don as a “sign that she’s in a good mood” (2). Does Rosie make fun of Don? Is that okay? Does Rosie seem happy in her relationship with Don?
9. Don fixes on the idea of “If I knew then what I know now” (87) as a way to help Hudson—by explaining the wisdom he has gained over the years. Can any parent deliver this wisdom to their children?
10. When thinking about his parenting, Don thinks about what he would have wanted at Hudson’s age, and decides “I would have wanted to be treated as an adult . . . to be properly informed, listened to, and involved in decisions affecting me” (73). Is this what most children want? Is it possible to give it to them?
11. Discuss what else the book says about parenting. Consider, for example, Don’s recognition that he needs to “outsource” some of the support he gives Hudson. Or how one’s parenting is influenced by one’s own parents.
12. Professor Lawrence tells Don that as a “straight, white, middle-aged male who’s spent his life in top western universities”, he is “the definition of privilege” (23). Do you agree? Does his autism affect his status?
13. One of the themes of The Rosie Result is the sexism that many working women encounter, and Rosie herself works hard to balance her roles. What do you think the novel says about women’s roles?
14. How does Simsion use debates typical of the “culture wars”—such as the Genetics Lecture Outrage and the treatment of women in the workplace—both to illustrate Don’s character and to make political points?
15. Don had previously seen social skills as unimportant, but comes to see a deficit in social skills as potentially damag- ing (60). What do you think? What purpose do social skills serve? Are they overrated?
16. Don has spent a lifetime trying to fit in (368), but eventu- ally realizes he doesn’t want Hudson to have to do the same. How much should people—whether autistic or neurotypical—try to “fit in” and modify their behavior to get along with others? How much should the world accommodate difference?
17. If Hudson hadn’t had the “fitting in” lessons from Don and his friends, would he have been as easily able to reject “being normal” as he does in his school speech?
18. Do you agree that autism is “your choice, your identity” (69) as activist Liz puts it? This seems to be the conclu- sion Hudson, Blanche, and Don all come to. Is this what the novel concludes too? What do you think about Margot’s concerns for her previously non-verbal daugh- ter?
19. Why might people embrace or reject autism as an identity? If you are autistic, what was your choice and why? Or didn’t you have a choice?
20. Why do you think the Rosie books have been so popular?