Monday, April 20, 2009

"But deep at the bottom of our conflicting desires and confusions there is the sense of what is right and what is wrong."

Ok, ok, I'm probably the last person to read Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. I know this because I read about it here and here. Then the amazing Karen S-M, who has a Galley Group at KPL, told me I had to read it and, while I was picking it up at the library, I ran into Ed Spicer and we chatted about it--he also wrote about it here. So, I read it. And I stand amazed.

Marcelo is a teen with Asperger's Syndrome. He craves his routine and has a "special interest" in religion. It is his dream to spend the summer before his last year in high school working with the ponies at the special school he has always attended. His father, however, insists that Marcelo should work at his law firm to gain experience in the "real world." While Marcelo is not happy with this turn of events, he is glad that he will be allowed to choose whether to attend his familiar school or the regular high school during his senior year if he completes the tasks set before him throughout the summer.

While working at his father's firm, Marcelo discovers that the real world is much different than the life he has been living. He is confronted with trying to understand the world in a different way. He has to witness and try to make sense of sexist behavior, ethical dilemmas, and being forced to make decisions about things he never imagined. He also has to figure out how to work with Jasmine, his supervisor in the mail room, as well as Wendell, the offensive son of his father's partner.

However, it wasn't just the plot, which was part mystery, part legal drama (and just maybe a little romance?) which caught my attention. I was even more drawn in by the language (Marcelo frequently slips into the third person) and the characters. Every time I put the book down I kept thinking, "What if?" and, "But how?" and, "If he does . . .." It was ridiculous, but I couldn't get Marcelo out of my head. I had to keep saying to myself, "It's ok, he's a paper person!"

Will Marcelo make it in the "real world?" Will his life be different after he spends the summer working for his father? Marcelo in the Real World was published March 1, 2009.

1 comment:

  1. If I read too many more of your reviews, I will have to start reading Middle School books!

    I'm proud to have such a great writer in my family!