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Marcelo in the Real World Hardcover – March 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 164 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Artfully crafted characters form the heart of Stork's (The Way of the Jaguar) judicious novel. Marcelo Sandoval, a 17-year-old with an Asperger's-like condition, has arranged a job caring for ponies at his special school's therapeutic-riding stables. But he is forced to exit his comfort zone when his high-powered father steers Marcelo to work in his law firm's mailroom (in return, Marcelo can decide whether to stay in special ed, as he prefers, or be mainstreamed for his senior year). Narrating with characteristically flat inflections and frequently forgetting to use the first person, Marcelo manifests his anomalies: he harbors an obsession with religion (he regularly meets with a plainspoken female rabbi, though he's not Jewish); hears internal music; and sleeps in a tree house. Readers enter his private world as he navigates the unfamiliar realm of menial tasks and office politics with the ingenuity of a child, his voice never straying from authenticity even as the summer strips away some of his differences. Stork introduces ethical dilemmas, the possibility of love, and other real world conflicts, all the while preserving the integrity of his characterizations and intensifying the novel's psychological and emotional stakes. Not to be missed. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up—Like Christopher Boone, the protagonist in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Doubleday, 2003), Marcelo Sandoval is a high-functioning, extremely self-aware teenager with Asperger's syndrome. He has an empathetic mother and a father, Arturo, who appears to be less empathetic as he pushes Marcelo to live in the "real world." The form the real world takes is a summer job in the mailroom at Arturo's law office. The teen is forced to think on his feet, multitask, and deal with duplicitous people who try to take advantage of him. Over the course of a summer, Marcelo learns that he can function in society; he is especially surprised to find that he can learn to read people's expressions, even to the point of knowing whom he can and cannot trust. Writing in a first-person narrative, Stork does an amazing job of entering Marcelo's consciousness and presenting him as a dynamic, sympathetic, and wholly believable character. At a little over 300 pages, the story drags at some points, bogging down in the middle. However, the dilemmas that Marcelo faces are told in a compelling fashion, which helps to keep readers engaged.—Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: HL700L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545054745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545054744
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #730,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Karen Joan VINE VOICE on November 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD is quite simply one of the most beautiful and moving stories that I have ever read. By author Francisco X. Stork, this lovely, thoughtful book tells the very special story of Marcelo, a seventeen year-old boy with a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. Told from Marcelo's point of view, the reader is transported into a very unique way of thinking, bringing Marcelo's world alive with amazing clarity and detail.

In MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD, Marcelo Sandoval has always experienced music in his head that no one else can hear, and he has always attended a school where his unique differences and abilities have been nurtured and protected. But the summer before his senior year, his father requires Marcelo to work in his law firm's mailroom, so that Marcelo can begin to understand and experience "the real world," and, perhaps, attend the mainstream high school for his final year. At the law firm, Marcelo develops friendships with Jasmine and Wendell. But are they real friendships? Only time will tell. As the summer unfolds, Marcelo learns about many new emotions and ways of life, from competition, jealousy, anger, and desire, to patience, control, wisdom, and strength. When he finds a disturbing photo in a box of documents to be destroyed - a picture of a girl with horrific injuries - Marcelo finally, truly connects with the real world, and begins to understand his place in it. Marcelo learns about pain, suffering, and injustice in the world, as well as what he can do to fight it.

This story is told in the first person by Marcelo, and it his most unusual way of thinking and speaking that completely draws the reader in.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had picked this book up a couple of times in the last 2 weeks but always set it aside to read something else. Finally I opened it and began - then I could not put it down! I immediately fell in love with the main character, Marcelo, who has some type of cognitive disorder in the autism/Asperger's spectrum. But this book is NOT about the neurobiological condition, but about the HUMAN condition.

Marcelo, age 17, is going to be a senior in high school. He has lived a somewhat coddled and sheltered life - living in a tree house next to the family home and going to a special school for children with disabilities. His father asks that he work the summer at his law firm in order to learn more about the "real world" and about the skills and abilities Marcelo will need for his future. Marcelo hesitantly agrees, knowing that the deal was that if he should do well, he will be permitted to return to his special school versus having to attend the public high school in the fall. Marcelo starts his job, meets his boss Jasmine and learns to make small talk, work and interact with the other employees in the firm, including the son of his father's partner - a playboy with a bad attitude and poor ethics.

In the course of the story, Marcelo learns some secrets about himself, his father, and about a lawsuit in progress that show him that all people are not completely good and that the world is not black and white. His special obsession is religion and there is a lot of spiritual discussion in the book which at times went on a little long, but Marcelo does learn how to differentiate within shades of gray to make a very momentous decision that will change his outlook and his life. Recommend: BUY IT!
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Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: I have Aspergers and have wanted to read this book since I first heard of it.

Summary: Seventeen year old Marcelo has Aspergers (high functioning form of autism) though he doesn't like to label himself that way but when asked does say that the closest diagnosis for his condition would be Aspergers. He's lived a very happy life, going to an upscale private school for kids with learning or psychological difficulties. Here he is allowed to be himself, follow his interest and gently learn how to communicate with the "normals". Aspies have obsessions and Marcello's special interests (as he prefers to call them) are first and foremost God. His family is Catholic, he prays the rosary and memorizes scripture but he also reads theology from all sorts of perspectives and meets regularly with a Rabbi friend of his mother's for hour long sessions on discussing God. His other interest is Halflinger ponies which are raised at his school and used as therapy for autistic and other hard to reach children. He looks after them and has planned once again to work there this summer vacation but Marcelo's father has a different plan for him this time. His father refuses to believe that Marcelo has any sort of condition that (now that he's a man) getting out in the "real world" will not help him overcome and he has arranged for Marcello to work in his law firm's mail room for the summer with the stipulation that if he does well he can decide whether he wants to go back to his special school for his last year of high school or to public school but if he fails to meet all tasks assigned to him he will have to go to public school for his last year. Thus his father hopes a dose of "real world" will cure his son.

Comments: I loved this book!
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