Thursday, March 4, 2010

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Note to self... reviews must be written in a more timely manner. A few weeks have passed since I read Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork and, although the particulars have faded, I liked the book a lot and thought I'd try a mini-review.

The plot:
Marcelo Sandoval is a 17-year-old boy with an Asperger's-like condition. He attends a special high school but, at his father's request, will spend the summer working in the "real world" - the mailroom of his father's law firm, in this case. Afterwards, Marcelo may choose whether to return to special ed or be mainstreamed for his senior year. Highly intelligent Marcelo must learn to navigate a world filled with of nonverbal cues, sarcasm, and emotion.

A favorite quote:
...The real world.
As vague and as broad as this term is, I have a sense of what it means and of the difficulties it entails. Following the rules of the real word means, for example, engaging in small talk with other people. It means refraining from talking about my special interest. It means looking people in the eye and shaking hands. It means doing things "on the hoof", as we say at Paterson, which means doing things that have not been scheduled in advance. It means walking or going to places I am not familiar with, city streets full of noise and confusion. Even though I am trying to look calm, a wave of terror comes over me as I imagine trying to walk the streets of Boston by myself. (page 20-21)

Final word:
This is the second Young Adult novel I've read in as many years, and I loved it! It reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon, another book my daughters and I all raved about. I'm curious though, why Marcelo is classified as YA and Curious Incident is not. Both are quite appropriate for high school students. Any thoughts?


  1. This sounds wonderful. I'd love to read it and I do like that cover!

  2. I really like the quote you chose. Sounds like I should keep an eye out for this one!

  3. Thanks for the review- I'm going to tell my niece about this book. Her two sons both have autism and sometimes the "real world" is a scary place for them.

  4. I, too, need to write my reviews in a more timely manner. The ole brain just cannot remember details too well these days :)

    I love the mini review format.

    This book as been on my TBR list for quite a while. I hope to read it sometime this year.

  5. Interesting question you pose at the end. I loved The Dog in the Night Time. Will have to put this one on the radar. The definition of "YA" is confusing, isn't it (at least, I find it so).

  6. I'll be curious to see what you think of South of Broad. Are you a Pat Conroy fan?

  7. Sounds like a great YA novel; hope to read it sometime; Thanks Joanne

  8. This is the second post I see today that makes me really want this book! (The other one was at Jenny's Books). Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something :P

  9. YA is a bizarre category. My B&N has started to cross stock books in both places. I think that supposed YA books (coming of age? young protagonist? who knows!) have become so popular with adults that sellers don't know how to categorize them anymore!

  10. I was just looking at this today in my school library! Wonderful review. :]

  11. Not sure why the one wasn't marketed YA but it has found a niche there. I loved it and want to read this one for sure!

  12. Mrs. B. - Isn't the cover wonderful? It was one of the nominees in amazon's best cover competition - it may have even won, but I'm not 100% sure.

    Dana - That quote pretty much summed up the whole premise. I loved it.

    Kaye - The "real world" is definitely as scary place for kids like Marcelo. It was amazing to see how he dealt with things most of us take for granted.

    Molly - I seem to be getting worse and worse with these reviews. My new strategy will be to write them right away, then let them sit for a few days in case my thoughts 'evolve'.

    DS - If you liked The Curious Incident, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one, too. I suppose I don't read enough YA to completely grasp the classification criteria.

  13. Midlife Jobhunter - I've been a Pat Conroy fan for a long time! I'm actually reviewing South of Broad for a blog tour next month, but I had to start reading as soon as it arrived. About halfway through now... he sure can tell a story! Have you read it?

    Diane - Thanks... this was a good one!

    Nymeth - I think it's time you read Marcelo ;-)

    Rhapsodyinbooks - I've noticed they are stocked both places at B&N, too. Not so at the library though. The YA classification mystifies me!

    Robby - You should pick it up next time... such a good book!!

    Staci - You're going to love Marcelo!

  14. I really love the quote that you shared. And the premise of the book sounds really interesting.

  15. Justicejenniferreads - I loved that quote, too - it really sums up the whole premise of the book.

  16. JoAnn, thanks for the link back to this review. I'll have to check it out sometime. Does it contain gentle humor like Curious Incident?

  17. KIm - Well now that it's been a couple of months since I read this, my memory is getting fuzzy. There were a few gently humorous passages, but humor was not an aspect that stood out in this novel.


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