Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval suffers from a unique and undiagnosed form of autism, similar to Asperger's. Though he functions very well in his small, orderly world, his father determines that Marcelo needs to learn how to live in the "real world", and arranges a summer job for him in the mail room at his law firm. In the mail room, Marcelo meets Jasmine, the first person outside of his family who seems to truly understand him and the way that he thinks. But there are also many other people who wish to take advantage of Marcelo at the law firm, and it is while he is there that he learns that there is more to people than meets the eye, even people you know well.
Marcelo in the Real World is superbly written! Stork illuminates Marcelo's differences in the way he thinks and acts cleverly and clearly, like in the ways he doesn't understand the meaning of certain facial expressions (but in a way that the reader does), or how he has a habit of speaking in the third person, even when referring to himself. These details do not detract from the story, but make it all the more fascinating and will inspire you to think differently. Marcelo himself is a charming and engaging character, and his honest and straightforward ways make him an easy person to root for, even as he makes perplexing discoveries and must learn about the cruelties of injustice and not everyone does the right thing. There are many fascinating insights and observations in the novel, ones that will make you stop and think and fall head over heels in love with the story. This is an unconventional coming-of-age story, full of humor, heart, learning, and choices. Do not miss this book.
Cover Comments: I will admit, when I first saw a picture of this book online, it was small and a little fuzzy, and I immediately got the impression that the cover wasn't very good. But then when I received a hard copy of the book, I discovered that it isn't so. It's actually quite a beautiful and unique cover, which fits since the story is just as unique and beautiful. I love the stars, the silhouettes, the font, everything! Perfect!
Review copy received from Scholastic.