In Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork tells the story of one summer in the title character’s life. Marcelo is seventeen, and looking forward to spending the summer working with the ponies at Paterson, the school for students with special needs that Marcelo attends. He is autistic and feels more comfortable in the world of Paterson than out in the “real world.” Unfortunately, his dad believes he needs to learn about life away from Paterson and insists that Marcelo spend the summer working at his law firm. He is placed in the mailroom, which run by Jasmine. While he must work at saying the acceptable things when dealing with co-workers in the law firm, Marcelo begins a friendship with Jasmine. He is also befriended by Wendall, the son of his father’s partner in the law firm. These two new friends begin to teach Marcelo about trust, loyalty, acceptance, and doing what is right.
Mr. Stork gives the reader a chance to see the world from the perspective of a person with Aspergers. It’s a quick and enjoyable read, and I loved watching Marcelo grow throughout his summer in the “real world.” I liked that Mr. Stork chose the law firm as the setting since it must be the complete opposite of the supportive Paterson world, and much more harsh than the rest of the world. While Marcelo is learning about the real world, he also is pondering the bigger things in life – religion, ethics, and love. I loved his open-mindedness when it came to his exploration and questioning of religion, and how it never overpowers the story or seems out of place. I think these questions are things teen readers can relate to.