Friday, December 14, 2012

The right note

I love books that take me to other worlds, be it the Middle Earth of Tolkien, the deep space of C.J. Cherryh, or the wide, unpopulated Wyoming of Craig Johnson.

Marcelo in the Real World is one of those books. Author Francisco Stork takes the reader into the world of Marcelo, a seventeen year old boy with Asperger Syndrome. Asperger Syndrome is on the high functioning end of the Autism Disorder Spectrum.

 Marcelo is comfortable with his life. He attends a special school and in the fall he’ll be starting his senior year. He's excited about his plan to spend the summer working with the school’s therapy horses. He has a doctor friend who likes to study him and he’s paid a small amount for allowing special tests on his brain.

Marcelo lives in a world where he is liked and understood; but suddenly everything changes. Marcelo's father tells him that he won't be going to the special school in the fall. He'll be going to a traditional high school instead. When Marcelo protests, his father insists that he needs to deal with the "real" world.

The two finally reach a compromise. Marcelo will work for his father for the summer and if he succeeds at his job, he'll be able to go to the school of his choice. Marcelo agrees unhappily, and girds himself to do the best he can.

All perhaps would be well if his job wasn't in a law firm. Marcelo is thrown into the shark tank of a highly successful legal partnership, where he is forced to deal with multiple distractions and people who aren’t what they seem.

 How Marcelo learns to cope with the “real” world is fascinating. His character is very likeable, and I was deeply engaged by his problems and the evolution of his understanding. I also admired the author’s beautiful control of voice and plot. Marcelo in the Real World is a compelling read.

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