Author: Francisco X. Stork
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Read Time: 4 Days
Tag Words: Mental disability, male perspective, unique, coming of age, sex, moral truth, religion, lawyers, music
It’s time for Marcelo to join the real world. Marcelo’s father, Arturo believes the best way to integrate his unusual son into society is to have him work at the mail room in his office.
Marcelo would rather work with the ponies at his school, or listen to the IM, his inner-music, or speak with Rabbi Herschel about God, but he promises his father he will abide by the rules of society for one summer and join the real world by working in the law firm.
When Marcelo meets a new cast of “real” characters his eyes are opened to a slew of situations his peaceful mind had never entertained before including love, sex, right, wrong and consequences.
Marcelo in the Real World is a thoroughly original coming of age story. First, it is narrated wholly by a boy who is not obsessed with cleavage, or gay. (Insert laugh here.) Instead Marcelo is faced with reality, he is faced with love, the fact that he has never considered sex, but is now, due to Jasmine, the slightly unconventional, caring and truth-talking mail room girl. He is also introduced to a sly, cocky boy who is the son of an esteemed lawyer at the firm and when this new friend asks him to strike a deal he must quickly learn who is true friends are. And last, but not least, Marcelo grapples with right and wrong and ultimate consequences when he finds a picture of a disfigured girl who sustained her injuries in an automobile crash where the infallible windshields his father is now defending marred her for life.
Have I not sold you yet? Fine. Marcelo’s voice is unique, obviously not like you, or I, but not uncomfortable to listen to. I have been surrounded by disability my entire life, first reading to my cousin with CP in his ball pit, then tutoring disabled kids from grade school on. It’s a passion of mine, because those whose minds aren’t like the rest of ours, those that are considered broken, or unwhole are the most fascinating people I have ever spent time with and I mean that from the depths of my heart. In my limited experience Stork completely captured the heart and mind of a nearly adult male who is finally encountering the “real world.” In the words of one of the characters, “If we could all be so ill.”
I think this book asks and answers the right questions, but Stork also chooses to leave some questions blank and I am still reeling, trying to decide my stance on certain issues. Was Marcelo’s father right to integrate him into the real world, or not? What attracts Jasmine to Marcelo? Besides Marcelo’s interest in God, does he believe God has an interest in him? All very interesting, thought-provoking questions that are still haunting me.
I would ask you to read this book if any of the above appeals to you, because I think it is a book worth your time, a bit of your heart, and many of your thoughts.
Notes on the Names:
Arturo, Aurora, Marcelo & Yolanda.
Don’t they make a lovely family? Don’t they just inspire an image?
Thoughts on the Cover:
I received more compliments on this cover just walking around with it. Nearly anyone who saw me reading it, stranger, or no, would stop me to say how beautiful it is, and I agree! Another cover similar to it that I have recently been captivated by is I’ll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan:
Parental Book Review *spoilers*
A lot of talk about sex, some of it very sterile, some of it not so nice, as Marcelo comes to see that not everyone regards the act as a loving one.
I do think you should be aware of this content, but also know I took no offense, found none of it abrasive, lewd, disgusting etc. Because I saw all the wonderful plot weaving and intellect stirring the author was up to.
No actual sex, or even kissing, occurs.
Again, Marcelo is discovering the rude ways people use such terms as “F**cking,” and sometimes the word would be written down because Marcelo was discussing the word with someone and how it was crude.