Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Seventeen year old Marcelo is so excited about his summer job working with the ponies at his school. You see, Marcelo goes to a special school for kids who need extra help...Marcelo has a type of autism. He hears music in his head all the time and sticks to a very strict schedule.

When his dad proposes that he work in his law firm for the summer, and if he completes this job successfully he can decide if he wants to finish his schooling at the special school or attend the local public high school. (His dad wants him to attend public school.)

So, Marcelo gives up his summer plans and works in the "real world," in the mail room of his father's law firm. For Marcelo, this is a huge deal as he has trouble with social cues so he must work extra hard to simply understand. For instance, small talk is very difficult and he takes things quite literal. He studies every night for things to talk about with his co-workers and usually has his computer handy so he can look up sayings on the Internet that he may not understand. He also befriends his boss in the mail room--Jasmine--who eventually helps him along.

Over the course of the summer, Marcelo learns all sorts of things about the real world: jealously, honesty, getting along with others, relationships, learning about the lives of others, and most of all--learning how much he really can operate in the "real world."

What I Thought:

What a great book! I was encouraged to read this book while at a literature workshop and the presenter had it picked as a contender for the Printz Award this year.

I love Marcelo. I found it absolutely fascinating to be "in his head" for the book and experience what life is like for him on a daily basis. He has a light case of Asperger's Syndrome, and his brain is simply just wired differently. What is so easy for most people is very difficult for him. Simply social interactions take great concentration and effort for Marcelo.

It was fascinating and incredibly interesting to watch Marcelo learn what the "real world" is like. This book will definitely make you think and gives a whole new aspect of those with issues in the autism spectrum.

Very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.

Reviewed from a library copy.

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