I had read a few glowing reviews of this new young adult novel by Francisco X. Stork and even before I got it in my mailbox I pretty much new it was going to be wonderful, and oh gosh was I right. Or rather those bloggers whose reviews I read were right. What a fabulous, amazing, lovely book. I felt like I was glowing when I finished this one, having had a smile on my face throughout the reading of each page, and I have already set off on a determined journey to recommend this to everyone I talk to. You'll fall in love with Marcelo, really.
17 year old Marcelo Sandoval lives with a form of Asperger's Syndrome, possessing qualities such as an obsession with religion, a special relationship ability with animals, and a very literal way of thinking and speaking. He also just happens to hear music that no one else can hear. His emotions come through as music...in a way. Don't ask Marcelo to explain, he can't do justice either. He has arranged for a summer job working with the ponies at his alternative high school, but his father, a high-powered attorney is determined for Marcelo to gain "real world" experience and forces him to take a job in the mail room of the law firm.
Over the course of the summer, Marcelo definitely does begin to learn about the real world. He begins to communicate on a social level with Jasmine, his boss-turned-friend in the mail room, as well as with some rather mean and snobby characters that are employed at the firm. Heartache, hurt, and literal "real life" start to infiltrate Marcelo's formerly innocent life. Though he begins to lose some of the differences that made him previously weird and awkward, Marcelo constantly stays true to himself, not conforming the way his father wishes him to, but also not remaining inside the box as he expected himself to.
I could rave and rave about this book, but instead, just let me share one of my favorite little sections with you. From page 152:
"Aurora told me that when I was little, I would take the daily mail and sort it into different piles. The order of the piles, she said, was hard to figure out. Sometimes it was by the size of envelope, sometimes by the color of the stamp. But there were times when no matter how hard she tried she could not discern my logic. I don't remember doing that, but I imagine it must have been hard to find the one unifying element amongst many possible ones. My CDs come to mind. Sometimes I sort them by composer, sometimes by instrument, sometimes by the length of time I've owned them. Right now they are sorted in a way that no one in a million years could ever figure out. For the past year I have been sorting them by the music's predominant emotion: joy, sorrow, longing, loneliness, serenity, anger. The reason no one could ever figure out the categories is that I myself am often at a loss at how a particular CD ended up in the happy category, for example, when it is clear as I listen to it again that the music is anything but happy."
Such love for this book, such love. Go read it...you will not be disappointed, but rather raving up and down about how everyone else needs to read it. Libraries need it, home shelves need it, adults and young adults. GO GET IT!
To learn more or to purchase (you'll want to, I promise) click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.
Marcelo in the Real World
Francisco X. Stork
Young Adult fiction
Arthur A. Levine Books