Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday Story - Neaderthal & Rosie

This is a bit of a milestone post in that it's my 500th post! Thanks for reading me, especially if you're a regular :)

Today I want to talk about two books with unusual characters and my thoughts on them. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Jan 2013) hit best seller fame. Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid (March 2013) and is spoken of a 'smart romance'.

The Rosie Project was hilarious with Don Tillman's awkwardness there on display for all. He was goofy, awkward, and desperate for a wife. Until about halfway, I was sold on the story...and then Don decided he needed to change who he was, largely because of prompting by others and his need for a wife.

This shattered me and left me disliking the book. I don't mind growth and change in a character per se. What got me about this was that Don Tillman's best friend ridiculed him for his idiosyncrasies - even though he was undeserving of this. Don was "aspergery" (my invented word for the fact that I thought he sat somewhere along the Asperger's scale) and I objected to the fact that he couldn't be loved even with his peculiarities.

It's probably a pet thing of mine, related to me and to also my upbringing. Probably no one in the world agrees - because it was a very popular book! When I was in 5th class, we went to see Grease, as a school end of year excursion - it was newly released. I was 11 and sheltered, so a lot of the film passed over my head. Seeing the film caused so much kerfuffle. I went to a Catholic school and after we saw the film, the Catholic Church came out condemning it. Of course I had no understanding of what they were condemning but I wanted to know. Mum told me it was because the girl changed who she was to be liked - which I thought was insane because Danny liked Sandy more at the start when she was sweet and innocent, than at the end when they were both just part of big groups together. Yep, see, no idea about the sexual themes in that movie :) But that message stuck with me all my life. It's like it grew roots in my head and took over me. If someone liked you for who you were - why the hell would you change to fit in with a group? It made no sense to me. Hence my problem with Don Tillman.

So then this week I've read Neanderthal Seeks Human because I saw someone recommend it, and it was free when I got it. It has such a dumb title and silly cover (in my opinion), I would never have looked at it otherwise. BUT... it's wonderful. It's everything Rosie wasn't for me.

Janie is aspergery too...and Penny Reid gets right into her head with all the rubbishy trivia Janie thinks of to divert her mind from emotion and those pesky humans who drive her nuts. Janie sees herself as a Neanderthal (hence the title). She has the hots for a security guard in her office building who she pervs on every lunchtime, and some afternoons, for a few weeks. Then she meets him and he's not only hot but he seems to 'get' her and all her awkwardness.

"...surprisingly, I didn't actually feel any outrage at being called terrified, oblivious, and irrational. His assessment was, more or less, on target. The fact that he knew these things about me, and he seemed to accept them regardless, made me feel better and worse."

"But, in spite of how totally nuts you are, I wouldn't change anything about you." (Hero, Quinn, says this to Janie)

There's some fabulous writing, like:
"...caused my stomach to become like hair trapped in bubblegum - a massive tangle of heinous, untenable knots."

"I was in the Matrix, and I'd just unwittingly taken the red pill; my thoughts became as agitated and circular as a washing machine on the spin cycle."

It was refreshing to read a goofy heroine who found a man who loved her just as she was, who accepted her quirkiness, and even enjoyed those quirks. Her friends are the same - a bunch of women who love her and her eccentricities. It was my kind of story - she grew as a character, but she didn't change who she was.

So, if you weren't a fan of Rosie, or even if you were, you might like Neanderthal. Hope you do!

Happy Reading!

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