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Review: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Title: Marcelo in the Real World
Author: Francisco X. Stork
Year Published: 2009

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 312
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)USA (MA)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library

Summary (from the back of the book): Marcelo Sandoval hears music that nobody else can hear--part of an autism-like condition that no doctor has been able to identify. But his father has never fully believed in the music or Marcelo's differences, and he challenges Marcelo to work in the mailroom of his law firm for the summer... to join "the real world."

There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file--a picture of a girl with half a face--that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.

Review: I have had this book on my to read list for years and am glad that I finally got around to reading it. My daughter was reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which triggered me to think of Marcelo and pick up this book. The books are similar in the way they capture the voice of the main character, but Marcelo is more high functioning, saying he has Asperger's.

Marcelo's story is so interesting, but its his voice that captured me. Stork did a wonderful job of getting inside Marcelo's head and showing the reader how someone "on the spectrum" might see the world. At the end of the book the author describes his years of working and living with autistic young adults in a half-way house. He says this book "acknowledges the gifts of these young people and the gift of love he received" from them. What a perfect way to describe Marcelo. He is caring, thoughtful, and interested to figure out what he doesn't "get" about people. He is forthright and talks about what is going on, and in turn gets the other characters to do the same.

There were moments when I wanted to shout at Wendell for being cruel to Marcelo, to shield Marcelo from people's deceit, but that's the mark of a good book; I was completely sucked in. I also smiled as I read when Marcelo made real connections with other characters or stood up for himself. This book takes the reader on a journey that is so good!

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