Marcelo Sandoval is being taken out of his comfort zone this summer. Instead of working with ponies at Paterson school, he will be working in the mailroom at this father’s law firm. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s huge for Marcelo. Marcelo is on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. (His “cognitive disorder” is most closely likened to Asperger’s syndrome.) He is not comfortable in new and unpredictable situations, he likes to have every detail planned, and he often does not understand figures of speech that others take for granted. His father thinks Marcelo needs to learn what it’s like to live in the “real world.” Although he may be right, Marcelo is not happy with the decision.
Marcelo eventually learns to accept his role at the law firm. He must if he wishes to go to school at Paterson next year. He enjoys working with Jasmine, his supervisor in the mailroom. She is patient with him, and they become friends with each other.
One day, while working with a file for an upcoming case, Marcelo discovers a picture of a girl with half her face destroyed. He and Jasmine work to find the story of this girl and what it has to do with his father’s law firm. Marcelo’s world is rocked to the core when he learns the truth and how his father played a part in this girl’s suffering. What will Marcelo do with this information? Will he help this girl even though it may hurt his father? He knows he must do what is right, but he’s not sure what “right” really means. Is it even possible for Marcelo to step so far out of his comfort zone to help a girl he doesn’t even know? I’ll leave that for you to discover…
In this post, I’ve tried to give a little glimpse of Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World, and I feel like I’ve failed to paint a picture of what this book is really like. It is an engrossing novel that allows readers to see the thought processes of someone who may not think in the ways we consider “normal.” I found Marcelo to be a fascinating character, and I loved seeing how he developed throughout the course of this book. At some points, I thought that more people could stand to think like Marcelo. Oftentimes, we make life too complicated. If we just stop and think before we speak or act, there may be far fewer problems in the world. Marcelo is definitely a character to be admired, and I highly recommend this book to any and all readers.