Thursday, June 18, 2009

Marcelo in the Real World-- Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo has a few special interests: he loves horses, classical music, and religious theory. He lives in a tree-house in his parent's back yard, wears blue pants with a white button-up shirt every day, and cannot feel emotion the same way most people do. Oh, and he hears intensely beautiful music in his head, which he calls internal music, and because of this most people think he has Asperger Syndrome. He doesn't; he just lives in a world that's pretty different than the one most people live in, and it's easier on people like you and me to label him in some way.

Marcelo's father hates that his kid is "special." His father, Arturo, is a high-powered attorney and wants Marcelo to work at his law firm for the summer... to join the real world, and to normalize before he sends to him the regular public high school instead of the small special school Marcelo was previously attending. While working in the mail room at the law firm, Marcelo finds that he can feel emotion he never knew existed, and meets people who challenge his ways of thinking. When an issue of morals and good choices arises, Marcelo must decide what to do: should he protect his father's career and pretend that he has no knowledge of the situation, or should he fix the problem at his own family's expense.

Honestly, it's hard to summarize this book. Most of what makes it so good is the way it's written and how the characters relate to each other. I read this soon after I read Anything but Typical, and while they are different stories, it's hard not to compare them in my head as the characters have similar cognitive issues. Anything but Typical was more well-written, but Marcelo in the Real World was much more moving. Has anyone read both, and what did you think of them?

I would recommend this book to fans of Anything but Typical, Curious Incident of the Dog in the night-time, and even Wendy Mass's A Mango Shaped Space.

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