Published March 1st 2009 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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.
Marcelo doesn’t want to work at the firm in the real world, but his father Arturo makes a deal with him. He wants Marcelo to go to a normal high school for his senior year, but Marcelo wants to go to his special school. Arturo says that if Marcelo tries really hard to fit into the real world at the firm over the summer, then he can pick which school he’ll attend. Also, once Arturo has his mind set on something, he pretty much gets his own way.
You can’t help but love Marcelo. Throughout the novel, you watch him grow and learn things about the world. You can kind of feel the sharks circling at the law firm and you just want to protect him from them. But the thing is, after a while you realise that he is more than capable of standing up for himself. All the characters are great, actually.
Marcelo in the Real World is fascinating, thought provoking, funny, heartbreaking and well written. It’s a much smarter read than a lot of the young adult stuff out there.
My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.02/5