Marcelo in the Real World
Francisco X. Stork
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
Marcelo in the Real World is the second novel by Francisco S. Stork that I've read (I read Irises earlier this year and mostly enjoyed it). I picked it up at the library because it fit the criteria of a book challenge I'm currently working on... read a book about special needs.
Marcelo has a high functioning form of autism and has attended a special school all his life. Now that he's seventeen and about to be a senior, his father would like him to try attending the public school for his last year. In order to prepare him, he gets Marcelo a job at his law firm in the mail room so he can experience a bit of "the real world." It's there he meets Jasmine, the eighteen year old in charge. Soon Marcelo is pulled into office politics and is experiencing more of "the real world" than he ever thought he would.
I really liked the concept of the book and for the first half of the novel I was happy to read about Marcelo thrust into a world he didn't want to be in. I was happy to see him adjust and grow up a bit as well. Marcelo is not just a book about a teenager with autism, but it's also definitely a coming of age novel.
Ultimately, however, the characters really dragged down this novel. I don't just mean Marcelo; he was tedious to read about, but I think that was probably the point of his character. It was the other characters that bothered me. I didn't feel like I got to know Jasmine very well; her character at the beginning of the novel seemed so different to me than the one at the end of the novel and I'm not sure how or why that change came out. In addition to that the character of Wendall pissed me off. Again, I'm sure that was the point but everything about him made me angry and I just wanted to punch him. So much for the pleasant reading experience the first half of the novel was.
Three stars... I liked this book, but it didn't elicit any feelings of amazement from me and at times I found the characters so tedious and annoying that I had to shut the book. If you run across Marcelo in the Real World at a discount book sale or something, I would suggest picking it up. Several others have read the book and absolutely loved it. In addition, it was won several awards.