I received a free copy of this book from a giveaway I entered at goodreads. Thought I'd share the review here as well.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
My reviewrating: 3 of 5 stars
Marcelo is not what his father would call “normal,” but he is okay with that. He is happy with his life and looking forward to his senior year at Paterson (a school for children with special needs.) He is especially excited about his summer job taking care of the ponies at Paterson. Marcelo has a disorder that most closely resembles Asperger’s Syndrome, although that it not what it is. He hears a sort of internal music that no one else can hear and views the world in a way that is unique to him.
Arturo, Marcelo’s father, feels that Paterson is not the place for Marcelo. It is too sheltered. He is sure that his son could learn to function in the “real world” if he had to. And that is Arturo’s plan, to take Marcelo out of his comfort zone and put him in the “real world.” Arturo gives Marcelo a choice: if he gives up the job at Paterson and works in the mail room at his father’s law office he may choose to go to Paterson or the local public high school for his senior year. If he insists on keeping his stable man job he will have to go to the public high school. Marcelo’s choice leads him to a summer of adventures, new experiences, and knowledge that he isn’t sure he ever wanted to have. He develops new friendships and learns that friendly people are not always friends. Through the summer Marcelo is forced to think about his life and what he wants out of it. He learns who he is and who he wants to be.
I first saw this book at the Cooperative Children’s Book Center and desperately wanted to read it. I was so pleased to not only find it listed as a giveaway but to win it! Once I received it in the mail I could not wait to read it. I was not disappointed.
As a middle school library media specialist and young adult literature enthusiast I read many YA books. I try to read across genres and formats. In a year I read many books that I enjoy but not many that are truly unique. Marcelo in the Real World fits that bill. It is enjoyable and unique, a wonderful combination.
I was pleased that Marcelo’s disorder was never named. I think that too often people read a book where a character has a certain disorder/disability and they apply the traits of that character to all people with the same disorder/disability. Stork did a great job of giving the reader an idea of what Marcelo was like without stereotyping him or anyone else. I also liked the comparisons that Marcelo makes that let the reader understand how he is feeling (ex: his brain feeling like a chewed up wad of bubble gum.)
I found the relationship between Jasmine and Marcelo to be interesting. I was surprised that Jasmine wanted to move back home. That didn’t really seem to fit my idea of her from what I had already read and I had a hard time reconsidering that. The whole Vermont scene really didn’t fit for me. It made more sense at the end.
I felt that there was a lot going on in the book but the issues were all handled/resolved. I liked that Marcelo thought through the outcomes of his actions and was prepared to deal with the consequences. I think that this is a hard thing for any seventeen-year-old to do. His final decision was really a reflection of who he is and what he believes in.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to YA readers and adult readers alike.
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