The Rosie Result – a review

A lesson in labels

A label can be a powerful thing and this is something explored in detail in the final part of Graeme Simsion’s Rosie trilogy, The Rosie Result. There are the labels others impose on us, and those which we choose. There is a world of difference between them but they can be equally influencing on our lives and how others interact with us.

While many may have assumed protagonist Don Tillerman was on the spectrum for autism based on a number of traits, the previous two books avoided boxing him in. Don’s obsession with order and his efforts to categorise his own and others behaviours continue to be a source of gentle humour and learning for him and the reader. In the conclusion to the trilogy, social awkwardness is a source of trouble for both Don and his son Hudson.

Labelled by the world

Key to the plot are two misunderstandings seeing father and son separately treated as pariahs. Don’s effort to educate his students in a creative way sees him labelled a racist and required to take leave of absence from work. Hudson’s desire to impress others and prove himself sees him labelled an animal murderer.

Society is fast to heap blame on each. Don’s error features in newspapers and social media, and his wife and son are quick to receive secondary blame as relatives of a racist. Hudson’s error sees him suspended from school and other students are banned from socializing with him. Secondary to these labels, the university (Don’s employer) and Hudson’s school are swift and forceful in their efforts to label Don and Hudson.

The fury of the mob

It is an artful reminder of the mob mentality dominating our lives at the moment and a gentle reminder that these are real people with their own intents and emotions who suffer from society’s onslaught. Is our desperation to be seen as politically correct, ‘woke’ and tolerant actually making us cruel and intolerant? Simsion suggests it is. We would all benefit from taking a step back from time to time to find a different way of educating. Or perhaps by utilising the true grace of forgiveness.

This is demonstrated beautifully a number of times, such as in Don’s compassionate approach to the anti-vaxer parents of one of Hudson’s friends or both Don and Hudson’s responses to great wrongs done to them by others.

The labels we choose ourselves

The labels and reactions set off a life-changing series of events as Don makes Hudson his latest ‘project’, fearing his son will suffer the same social setbacks in life as he did. Don has spent his life trying to ‘fit in’ and his plan is to teach Hudson how to do the same. The project is a resounding success, but only if you ignore Don’s initial goals and see it as an exercise for both father and son in learning about themselves and from each other.

While the labels chosen for them are a source of pain, the labels Hudson and Don choose for themselves bring out the best in each. Hudson makes friends who can celebrate him for his differences, while Don finds himself relaxing and genuinely happy for the first time in his life.

In a world where we try so hard to blend in, where being Instagram-worthy (and ergo, project a particular perfect brand) is to be valuable, it is lovely to be reminded that true happiness comes from just being yourself. In that way, you will find your ‘tribe’ and they will find you.

The Rosie Result offers the conclusion every fan needed and didn’t know they wanted – Don Tillerman, socially awkward professor, truly has it all. We have watched him find love, family and friendship. Finally, we see him find himself and see that he is someone worth celebrating too.