Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo marks quite a memorable moment in our family’s dynamics: For the first time ever, our daughter actually shut us out with her headphones (I realize it’s coming relatively late in modern teenage life), demanding that she be able to finish this book right now (it was loaded on her iPod while we were traveling). She’s wasn’t even close to the last chapter … but she was sure rushing to get there!
With endorsement like that, how could you not read this book? It really, truly is that good … forget the rest of this post, just go order Marcelo either from your library or favorite bookseller right now … I just ordered author Francisco X. Stork‘s other titles, too. Our daughter’s going to have to fight me for first reading rights!
If you’re still looking for a few more details, here goes: Marcelo Sandoval is 17. He’s somewhere in the highly functioning Aspberger’s end of the autism spectrum. He’s Mexican American, he hears internal music, he usually talks in the third person, he prays the rosary and is obsessed with religion, his closest friend is a Jewish rabbi, and he escapes to a backyard tree house where he often spends the night. His father is a high-power lawyer in Boston. His mother is a compassionate nurse who works with ill children. His straight-talking older sister is away at Yale.
During the summer before his high school senior year, Marcelo’s father abruptly makes Marcelo a deal. Arturo wants Marcelo to work in the mailroom of his law firm so that he can experience ‘the real world'; if Marcelo lasts the summer, he will be able to choose for himself whether or not he returns to his special-education private school or enter the local public high school. Marcelo is wary, but with his (amazing) mother’s support, he finally agrees. And his so-called real-world adventures begin.
Marcelo meets gorgeous Jasmine, just a couple years older, who efficiently runs the firm’s mailroom, who lets him know first thing that she’s not particularly pleased about training him. She hears music of her own, music that she makes up … and she turns out to be quite a lovely, guiding soul. The one other young person Marcelo is expected to assist that summer is Wendell, the overprivileged, sleazy Harvard son of Arturo’s silver-spooned law partner.
When Marcelo discovers a disturbing photograph meant to be trash, he is determined to piece together the story of the girl in the picture … and detail by detail, his search leads him to challenging, difficult, conflicting lessons about love, loyalty, and the sometimes surprisingly grey areas of truth.
Stork is stupendously spot-on in creating Marcelo and his real world. From Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies to perfect Bible quotes to late night poker games that put food on the table, Stork has the uncanny ability to insert the perfect minutia to make you smile, gasp, yell, smirk, laugh, cry … come join in.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult