Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Stork, Francisco X. Marcelo in the Real World. Scholastic, Incorporated, 2009. 312 pages. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-05474-4.
Annotation: Marcelo, a sheltered autistic teenager, is asked by his father to spend the summer working at his law firm in the mailroom to help Marcelo experience life in the “real world.” While there Marcelo learns about a romantic relationship with the female coworker, rivalry, anger, and deception.
Summary: A sheltered autistic teenager, Marcelo Sandoval, is expected to work in the mailroom of his father’s law firm for the summer instead of his usual summer work tending the ponies at a special needs school. Marcelo’s dad wants Marcelo to experience life in the “real world.” His father also wants him to attend regular high school during his senior year but Marcelo wants to attend Paterson, his usual special needs school. While at the law firm, Marcelo enters an unknown world where he must compete with the son of his father’s law partner, develops a crush on the female mailroom supervisor, and gets involved with a case involving a young woman in a disfiguring windshield accident. Marcelo is tested morally, socially, and ethically by all his experiences. He exercises his coping skills to figure out how to deal with the conflicting questions of friendship, trust, and loyalty. Marcelo’s strength of character allows for a satisfying conclusion with Marcelo rising above his environment and remaining true to his convictions.
Evaluation: This beautifully written book has an extremely believable autistic character full of the idiosyncrasies of a person with an Aspergers-like condition. Marcelo’s character is dynamic, sensitive, and morally astute. Despite his disability, he is able to grow in a competitive environment ironically succeeding in the “real world” where his father has placed him. He is a good influence on others around him. Marcelo learns and teaches that there is an ugliness about all of us from which we can learn and grow. Recommended for ages 9 to 14.
Genre / Subject: Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Identity, Friendship, Family, Autism, Ethics, Special Needs, Ethical Behavior, Compassion, Music
Awards: 2010 ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2010 Schneider Family Book Award Winner – Teen Book,