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Monday, 12 December 2011

Irena's Review: Marcelo in the Real World

Author: Francisco X. Stork
Release date: 1st February 2011 UK
Genre: Realism
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Scholastic

Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm.

He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file -- a picture of a girl with half a face -- that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.

Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary novel is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside.

Irena’s Review:
Marcelo in the Real World is a heart-warming tale about self-discovery, personal growth and standing up for who you are.

Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval is different from his peers and not only that, but different from everyone else he knows: Marcelo has a condition no one has really been able to identify, but it is closest to Asperger's Syndrome. Marcelo doesn't see the world the way others see it, and he doesn't feel the same way, either. He has had to learn about feelings, jokes, double meanings and about what is expected from him in society. Marcelo has always been sheltered from the society of "normal" people, being allowed to live in his world, according to his own rules and likes. When his father wants him to work at his firm for a summer, Marcelo feels his world is about to collapse. He faces the "real" world bravely, but no matter how much he tries to avoid the changes - for Marcelo doesn't like changes - the real world begins to affect him.

The novel has been compared to Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and parallels can be drawn between the two novels, but Marcelo is a hero who stands out for his own merit and offers the reader an intriguing story that includes crime and romance. Marcelo's personal growth was my favourite part of the novel. While facing the so-called real world caused him to lose some of the things he cherished, they were replaced by new feelings and perceptions that he welcomed maturely. Although perceived by some (uninformed) people as retarted, Marcelo is far from it and he shows that being different is simply being yourself. Marcelo sticks to his principles and convictions, and surprised the reader with his great moral compass, strengthened by the doubt he has to surpass and the lies he has to face.

Marcelo is a memorable character that definitely makes the book what it is; heart-warming and thought-provoking. There is a bit of romance present and it was intriguing to witness Marcelo, who didn't really know what love was, experience it for the first time and I believe the author recorded his feelings - including his disappointment - beautifully. There is also a crime story that shows Marcelo's bravery, as he is able to stand his ground, even if it means hurting someone very close to him.

Marcelo in the Real World is a novel that can be enjoyed by anyone who has ever felt the slightest bit different, or simply by those enjoy a good story about real-life characters. The novel stayed with me after I turned the last page, and I hope you will experience a similar feeling.

Becky says: This book sounds stunning Irena. I think I’d love this. It sounds like it embodies so many different and yet complimentary themes. Thanks for the review.
Both our thanks go to Scholastic for sending the book to review.

1 comment:

Clover said...

I've heard good things about this book, but hadn't read a full description of it until now. It sounds like my sort of thing! Thanks for the great review :)