Do Don’s Asperger’s conditions help him or hinder him? Does Don’s having Autism offer any advantages in his life?
Do you agree with Don’s assessment that “humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others”? (p. 88)
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?
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?
After his lecture on Aspergers, Don confronts Julie with what he considers her lack of understanding: earlier, she obliquely refereed to Aspergers as a “fault”—as in “[it’s] something you’re born with. It’s nobody’s fault.” She also worries that the nickname “Aspies” will get “them thinking it’s some sort of club.” How do Don and Julie view Aspergers? Do you agree with Don’s approach…or Julie’s? This interaction to begin the novel set up 2 opposing views of Asperger’s. Julie’s view that it is a flaw in these kids which must be overcome and Don’s view that it gives these children an advantage that they have to know how to exploit in the “normal world.”
Don comes to see that morality and ethics are nuanced. What brings him to this point? And is morality nuanced? Is there such a thing as a purely moral/ethical stance, as Don has, up to this point, always believed?
Don comes to the realization that he loves Rosie. Does he? Is he capable of the same kind of love as those of us feel who are low on the autism spectrum? Don realizes he feels happiness with her…is that the same as love? Or is his concept of love—compatibility and pleasure in each other’s company—a better basis for marriage than deep feelings? Will Don’s love, or his idea of love, be satisfying for Rosie over the long haul? What do you think?
Don has autism. How would you rate the chances for a happy marriage between Don and Rosie? What problems might they encounter? Is the book’s ending overly optimistic, too much like a fairytale? Or is the ending based on optimism tinged with realism?
Overall, talk about the changes that Rosie precipitates in Don? In some ways, this novel can be seen as an adult coming-of-age story. How does Don grow over the course of the novel…not just the changes in his appearance or social behavior but in his essentials?
At one point, Don says about one of the father candidates, “Apparently he had been an oncologist but had not detected the cancer in himself, a not-uncommon scenario. Humans often fail to see what is close to them and obvious to others” (82). How does this statement, about people failing to see what is in front of them, apply to the different characters in the novel?
The novel mentions that Don struggled with depression in his early twenties and also talked about his strained relationship with his family. How did he cope with these issues? Are he and Rosie similar in the ways they deal with hard parts of their past?
Did you think it was believable in the end that Don would be able to see from the Dean’s perspective, the perspective of the student who cheated, Claudia’s perspective, etc? Why or why not?
How is the novel about overcoming our instinct to judge a book by its cover when we meet new people?