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Professor of genetics Don Tillman’s life is turned upside down when he embarks upon the Wife Project in order to find a suitable mate for his quirky habits and demanding personality. When a psychology PhD student named Rosie walks into his office, she’s all wrong—her hair is dyed, her clothes are sloppy, she smokes, and she is habitually late. But then again, something is right about her . . . Don just can’t recognize it at first. As the Wife Project takes a back burner to Rosie’s own project of searching for her biological father, Don finds himself breaking all kinds of rules and breaking out of his routine in ways that are both uncomfortable and exciting. When a research trip takes them from Australia to New York City, and Don’s career is threatened by his allegiance to Rosie, Don must face the toughest puzzle of all—himself. In the end, Don must confront his long-held notions of what it means to love and connect with people, and what it truly means to open up and trust someone.
1. Do Don’s Asperger’s conditions help him or hinder him? Does Don’s having Autism offer any advantages in his life?
2. Don goes through a number of spectacularly bad dates. What have been some of your own dating nightmares?
3. Where do you fall on the spectrum between structure and chaos in life? Are you highly rigid in your routines or very relaxed?
4. Do you agree with Don’s assessment that “humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others”? (p. 88)
5. What do you think of Gene and Claudia’s relationship? Do you know anyone in an open marriage? Can it work?
6. Don says that the happiest day of his life was spent at the Museum of Natural History. Do you have a happiest day of your life? Or is there a special place where you are happiest?
7. As Don’s affection for Rosie grows, he becomes aware of his instincts overriding reason. What is the role of instinct versus reason when it comes to choosing a life partner?
8. Do you have anyone on the Autism spectrum in your life?
9. Don watches a number of movies to try to learn about romance, including When Harry Met Sally, The Bridges of Madison County, An Affair to Remember, and Hitch. What are your top five romantic movies?
10. Have you ever had a moment of breaking out of your routine and opening up in a significant way? Or has someone broken through your routine for you?
11. Is it smart to have a list of criteria for a potential partner or is it limiting?
12. Don gets in trouble with the dean for using the genetics lab for his personal project with Rosie. Is it ever okay to break the rules in order to help someone?
13. Do you feel happy for Don when he “eliminates a number of unconventional mannerisms” (p. 268) in order to win Rosie, or has he lost something?
14. Does Gene get his comeuppance?
15. Were you surprised at the ultimate revelation of Rosie’s biological father? Did you suspect someone else?