April 13, 2010

Marcelo in the Real World - Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo in the Real World (Schneider Family Book Award. Teen)

Young Adult 
Pages: 320
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: March 1, 2009

Marcelo Sandoval hears music that nobody else can hear–part of an autism-like condition that no doctor has been able to identify. But his father has never fully believed in the music or Marcelo’s differences, and he challenges Marcelo to work in the mailroom of his law firm for the summer. . . to join “the real world.”

There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it’s a picture he finds in a file–a picture of a girl with half a face–that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.

This book was brilliant, compelling and wonderfully unusual. Marcelo has an unknown and unique type of autism in the high-functioning spectrum, commonly compared to Asperger’s Syndrome. I haven't read many books about mentally challenged people, but this is one of the most unconventional, interesting and beautiful stories I have ever read.

The distinctive way that Marcelo thinks is probably the most interesting part of the novel. Since the story is told in first person from Marcelo’s point of view, we get drawn into his uncommon process of input of information that usually takes him longer to process but he also processes much, much more information than we do. He breaks down every single piece of information he is given in a conscious effort to understand the world around him.

The story invites you to travel inside a challenged mind and explains in detail every single aspect so clearly that you will open your eyes to a totally different view of the world. Before reading this, I would have never thought I could somehow enter the mind of mentally challenged person. It was so compelling for me to learn and analyze the particular mind that the character has, from the way he has to reach out to his social interaction lessons in every single interpersonal encounter he faces, to the way he meticulously pays attention to proxemics, kinesics, and even syntax as he asks for normally unnecessary explanations of figures of speech and nonverbal messages.

The book is insanely well written, the characters are incredibly real and the details the author provides about Marcelo’s ways are entrapping. Not to mention the cover is beyond gorgeous. It is a heart-warming coming-of-age story that mixes love, humor, new discoveries, religion, music, life lessons with Marcelo's particular discoveries of cruel realities such as ambition, evil and jealousy and he realizes how hard and tough choices are "in the real world".

I highly recommend this book to everyone who appreciates something different and is open to learn and explore as much as I did.


  1. I've been looking forward to reading this, at some point, ever since I saw it in my school's library. I'm glad you loved it. Thanks for the review! :]

  2. Wow what a fantastic review. You thoughts definitely make this a book I will be reading. It sounds wonderful. Thanks

  3. Lovely review, Sab. I adored this book as well. So quiet and moving and excellent.

  4. I've had this for ages and haven't even read it yet. Another one to move up the TBR pile! Thanks! :)

  5. Wow Sab! I haven't heard of this book before, but this review (which was written so well, btw) has convinced me to go pick it up soon!

  6. I love books that have strange plots and twisted endings like, Unwind by Neal Shusterman. I also love inspiring books about kids/young adults like A Child Called It and Marcelo in The Real World. I do like books about God like, The Shack but not boring. I don't really like Chronicles/Series but Narnia was amazing. Any gripping book basically. Hope this helps. Haha.


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