Sunday, July 31, 2011

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

I won a Kindle copy of Marcelo in the Real World during the Autism Awareness Giveaway Hop earlier this year.  I'd heard great things about this book and every one of them was true.  

Here is the Goodreads blurb:
Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "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. 

Reminiscent of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary novel is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside.

I loved this book.  Once I started, I could not put it down.  Marcelo tells the story from his point of view and it really allows you to see how he is different.  You can really see the emotional/social disconnect that is part of Marcelo's Asperger's Syndrome symptoms and how it effects Marcelo's life.  This is one of those books that can change your mood and your outlook.  It lifts you up and gives you hope.  It is just so beautifully written and it really lets you see what life can be like for a person with AS.  I did not like Arturo (Marcelo's father).  He just seems to be worried about all the wrong things.  He's trying to force a square peg in a round hole.  As a parent to a child with AS, I HATE that.  It drives me crazy.  I loved seeing Marcelo take a bad situation and come out of it with a purpose for his life.  He experienced the "real" world and learned from it.  I also loved seeing that he did finally manage to connect emotionally with Jasmine.  It makes you so hopeful for his future.  I've seen some reviews that bash the book because they didn't feel that Marcelo was consistent as someone with AS or that his symptoms were not consistent over the course of the book.  I take issue with the first part- BIG TIME.  There is no set symptom or set of symptoms that makes a doctor go oh- this is or is not on the spectrum.  Autism and AS are a spectrum.  Every AS and Autism patient is different.  As for Marcelo not truly identifying as having AS.  In his mind, he is normal.  We're the weird ones.  So, if that is how he feels would he really identify as having AS?  I don't think so.  As for consistency, I didn't have an issue with it.  Overall, this was a beautiful book that everyone should read.  Be warned however, that the moral of the story may be over the heads of readers under 14 and there are a smattering of sexual references.  No sexual acts just references.  This book gave me a new and greater appreciation for my son who is on the spectrum and it gave me hope for his future.  I highly recommend this book.  You can find it on Goodreads here.

Marcelo in the Real World earns 5 stars for being a beautifully told story about a boy growing up and learning about himself and his place in the world.


christina said...

I found this book at a used bookstore for $2. How awesome is that? Looking forward to reading it.

Kathy S said...

I hadn't heard of this book before, but it sounds excellent. I may have to check it out.