by Francisco X. Stork
Arthur A. Levine, 2009
Late to this literary shindig, I often find myself running (speed walking?) to keep up with my fellow bibliophiles. Better said, I’m discovering pots of gold that have long ago been plundered by my colleagues, but finding them nonetheless. Such is the case with Marcelo in the Real World. Content with studying at Paterson High School, (a special school for students with Asperger’s Syndrome) caring for horses and living in his own tree house, seventeen year old Marcelo Sandoval is challenged by his father to accept a summer job at his law firm. Marcelo reluctantly accepts and begins to feel and express emotions that he has never before recognized. As he learns to cope with this new world, what Marcelo once saw as clear lines between right and wrong, good and bad, and the like become fuzzy. The competitive nature and opposing viewpoints of this ‘real world’ create a far more challenging, often confusing reality for Marcelo.
As with many books of late, I experienced Marcelo as an audio book. Fellow listeners can attest to the utter deflation of a good book brought on by poor audio production. The audio starts off slow and I admit hovering my finger over the eject button on my CD player. Fortunately, I remained patient and soon the reader’s (Lincoln Hoppe) deliberately slow pace and hushed, deep tone became harmonious with Marcelo’s unique and wonderful thought processes. Though I have never had the occasion to read a book after listening to it, I most assuredly will do so with Marcelo. Indeed, not since The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Thank you, Ms. DiCamillo) has there been a creation I wished I had written. For those who have not yet read it, try listening to it. To those who have, I offer the same advice.