Thursday, July 8, 2010

Marcelo In the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Here's a brief summary from Mr. Stork's website: Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear, part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify.

Marcelo is tagged with a "developmental disorder" because of his pervasive interest in God and all things religious and because he does not relate to others as expected. 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, a beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. Marcelo 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.
 
I realized while reading this book that there is a entire segment of our population, those with disabilities that are under represented in literature today.  So many young adults have ADHD, Autism spectrum disorders, OCD, etc.  Do they not deserve to read about characters who face those same challenges?  Characters who are portrayed as strong and capable, not broken and less than those without disabilities.
 
I loved Marcelo In the Real World!  He lives in a tree house and that in itself rocks.  He's thoughtful, smart, unique, naive in a beautiful sort of way.  He is pure of heart and just such a phenomenal person.  My son had his own disabilities that he grapples with and I know many other children who do as well.  It was wonderful to see a character with disabilties portrayed in such a capable, heartwarming manner.  There were times where I found myself laughing out loud at things Marcelo did or said.  I wanted to defend him against Wendell and his father.   Seeing his relationship develop with Jasmine is great. 
One of my favorites parts is when Marcelo is talking about his school, Paterson (not the real world) and says:  For all the pain I saw at Paterson, it is nothing compared to the pain people inflict upon each other in the real world....Only how is it possible to live without being numb to it or overwhelmed by it. 

I even think the cover is kinda' magical in its own way.  I enjoyed this book and give it four roses.

8 comments:

  1. I loved this book...as a writer and a reader.

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  2. I read a review about this a while back, and then forgot all about it! Great review, Lisa. It sounds like an intriguing, though-provoking read!

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  3. Great review. Thanks for reminding me that Marcelo's still on the shelf. (I need to move it towards the top of the pile)

    Also wanted to suggest you read Stork's "The Last Summer Of The Death Warriors". So brilliant I haven't been able to review it yet.

    Regards!

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  4. Great review! I love hearing about stories like this. All kids need to see themselves or their stories represented in books.

    I recently read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It's told from the view point of an autistic teen. Fabulous book. Can't wait to read this one too.

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  5. Great review! I agree that literature for those with special needs is lacking. As a mother of an autistic child this gives me hope that I will be able to find books for her when she's ready. I will add it to my TBR pile as well as the book Jemi mentioned. :)

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  6. Ack! I just saw my book right below my comment! Yay!!! Thanks for highlighting it to your readers! :D

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