Marcelo isn’t your typical seventeen-year-old boy. He refers to himself in the third person, is often confused by verbal metaphors, and isn’t crazy about meeting new people. He has “special interests” in religion, classical music, Halflinger ponies and little else. That’s because Marcelo has an Asperger’s-like condition that limits the natural development of his social skills and causes him to be obsessively interested in only a handful of specific topics. Now his father, a high-powered attorney, wants him to take a summer job at his law firm in the mail room so he can learn how the “real world” works. Reluctantly, Marcelo agrees. But from the moment he sets foot in the firm, he is confronted by people and situations that defy the logical way he has always approached life. First there’s Jasmine, the smart and funny head of the mail room whose natural beauty causes Marcelo to feel butterflies in his stomach for the very first time. Then there’s Wendell, the boss’s son whose slick charm keeps Marcelo constantly guessing at his motives. And finally, there’s the picture of the injured girl Marcelo finds at the bottom of an office trash can. Who is she? And was she hurt by the company that Marcelo’s father is defending? By the end of the summer, Marcelo finds himself made much wiser and sadder in the ways of the real world. But also much more hopeful about his survival in it. While this fresh and unaffected novel will be compared to the ground-breaking Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, it deserves a pedestal all its own for Marcelo’s singular voice and the artfully constructed moral mystery that awakens his awareness of good and evil. The Candide-like Marcelo will leave you viewing your own real world in a whole new light.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork