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The Monday Book: THE ROSIE RESULT by Graeme Simsion

This week’s Monday book is The Rosie Result, a novel by Australian author Graeme Simsion (the third in a series focused on an autistic man named Don Tillman). It is reviewed by JANELLE BAILEY. Bailey is an educator out of Wisconsin; she was one of the Little Bookstore’s shopsitters and in the summer reads AP English tests for college applicants. Take it away, Janelle!


I have really, through all three books, come to enjoy Don Tillman as a character, along with his wife Rosie…and the others, really, who are part of their story, round or flat, static or dynamic. This particular “episode” is focused more narrowly on Don and Rosie’s son, Hudson, and his challenges at school and in friendships and in life…and especially facing the question of whether, like his dad, he may be on the autism spectrum…in ways.


And I also enjoy Simsion’s writing and the issues he addresses in his books. Not only does one laugh out loud at Don and his very narrow, literal thinking, how hard he has to work to expand his perspectives, but one also appreciates his work ethic and how smart he is and how willing to take on subject matter to learn or “projects” to pursue, for his perseverance always leads things–ultimately, at least–up a valuable course.


In this third book he not only takes on autism and its potential influence in their lives but also homeopathic practices and anti-vaxx perspectives and what impact this can have on a child when parents are insistent…resistant…and expecially when that child has some serious medical issues. 


When I attempt to see, concisely, Simsion’s success in writing, I think it is again here that he gives a voice, through his characters, to those who might not otherwise get to speak but have important things to address. In part because of who and how Don is, he can bring it all to light in ways that others, “with filters applied,” might not. Whether it is he and his wife speaking to their son’s principal and teachers about very relevant concerns with their son’s classroom issues or addressing their son’s wish to have his friend, the daughter of the anti-vaxxing homeopath, seen by a medical doctor for her condition, there is simply a lot of believable truth to these situations and valuable, thoughtful response opportunity and empathy building on the part of the reader.


I truly enjoy and appreciate Simsion’s smart and thought-filled, valuable writing and story.

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The Monday Book: THE SINGING TREE by Kate Seredy

This YA novel is actually the sequel to a famous children’s classic called The Good Master. Kate and Jansci are cousins introduced in that book, when Kate is sent to live with her father’s brother’s family because she’s a spoiled city girl who has been ill.

The Singing Tree is a much deeper book, detailing the experiences of the Hungarian farmers during World War I. The book deals in childlike innocence with topics such as anti-Jewish sentiment in Hungary, the power grab of Austria, the terrible opening of the war, and how Hungarians and Germans set themselves up for future enmity.

The farm where Marton Nagy (the good master) keeps his family safe, and later shelters neighbors who lose their farms, and then houses Russian prisoners of war who work the farm while he is in the army, and finally takes in a passel of German refugee children, is a big happy place. Part of why I like this book is its sappy “Sound of Music” plot twists. (For one example, a stray cat having kittens makes Kate detour the farm wagon to an army field hospital, where missing Uncle Marton is discovered as an amnesia patient. I know, right? Eye rolling.)

And yet throughout the book are these amazing moments of writing, where true horror is simply spoken out by the beloved characters in heartbreaking poetic ways. Marton tells his family the story of Christmas 2015, when soldiers on each side of the trench separating them from killing each other the next day began lighting candles.

Light a candle for Christmas Eve, men whispered and their very words seemed to turn into tiny stars as dozens and dozens, then hundreds of candles came forth from the knapsacks to be lighted and stuck in the snow…..

Kate sighed, a long, tremulous sigh: Oh that was beautiful! What happened after?

The candles burned down, Kate, and the–darkness closed in again. Let those who made war heard the story of what happened after. Let them see.” He lifted his arm and covered his eyes.

Lots of characters fill out the pages and the plot in lovely ways, like Uncle Moses the shopkeeper and Sergei the head of the Russian prisoners, and Mother, who is described in the title. She is the tree that shelters what turns out to be more than twenty people from five nationalities on their farm. Unbelievable, except, in Seredy’s masterful style, it is.

I loved this book as a child and found additional meaning to it as an adult. Give it a read.

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