Marcelo in the Real WorldTitle: Marcelo in the Real World
Author: Francisco X. Stork
ISBN: 9780545054744
Pages: 312 pages
Publisher/Date: Arthur A. Levine Books, c2009.

“I want you to work in the real world.”
This is a total surprise. It takes me a while to find words, any words. When I do, I say: “I have a summer job at Paterson.”
“You’ll help in the mailroom.” He doesn’t hear or chooses not to hear what I say.
“I have a job already,” I repeat.
“Sit down, please.” He points to the chair. I sit. (19)

In Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval has an autism-like condition that causes him to hear music in his head and have trouble interacting with people. His condition has led him to work and go to school at Paterson’s, which provides therepeautic horse back riding and classes such as Social Interaction. So when his father forces him to experience the “real world” by working in the mailroom at his father’s law office, it definitely takes some transitioning. His conversations with his coworker Jasmine and his father’s partner’s son Wendell make him rethink whether he wants to truly become part of the real world, especially when they expose what’s really going on behind closed court room doors.

This was a gripping book, partly because Marcelo is so naive in the beginning. His innocence is portrayed suscinctly, with readers catching on to innuendo and phrases much more quickly than Marcelo, and then being witnesses to his eventual comprehension of the greed, jealousy, and lust that we see in every day life. Although the book discusses religion, there seems to be no favoritism, with Marcelo (a Christian) examining Judiasm, Christianity, and Buddhism with what appears to be equal enthusiasm and interest, so that’s not why I would hesitate in recommending it to readers. I would hesitate because of the sexual references that continuously crop up in conversations, especially after Wendell enlists Marcelo’s unknowing support in convincing Jasmine to sleep with him. But it’s not explicit or graphic in nature (mainly consisting of gestures and popular slang), and definitely contributes to Marcelo’s gradual but jarring coming to age.

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