Friday, February 18, 2011
Marcelo in the real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo is a very content 17 year old. He is happy at his high school and at his job working with horses. In both places he has people who know, understand and accept what his autism-like condition means for him. Marcelo's father on the other hand believes that Marcelo can adapt if he is put into new situations. As a result, Marcelo's father strikes a deal with him. Marcelo will come to work at his father's law office for the summer and if he is successful then his father will allow him to continue going to his special high school come September.
The summer is unlike any Marcelo has ever experienced. He is forced into situations that he cannot plan for or anticipate. He must interact with people who believe that having autism means he is stupid and they have no idea how to relate to him. Marcelo meets many new people and through it all he is learning not only about the real world, but also about his own values and beliefs. Marcelo finds himself in an ethical dilemma where there is really no right answer. I loved how he had to grapple with a huge decision that had major consequences for him and his family.
I thought this book was wonderful. The characters are really rich, Marcelo's character represents so many students I have taught. Kids that have their own unique way of looking at things, but are by no means 'stupid'. I found the complicated relationship that Marcelo had with his father to be quite sad. His father never really seemed to know how to relate to Marcelo. Yet the relationship with his mother is full of love, patience and understanding. There is a really interesting section in the book where Marcelo is grappling with the teachings of the Bible and relating it to what he is learning through his summer job. Although I found it very interesting, I wonder how kids will push through it.
This book does have some inappropriate language, but it is pretty minor. This book will definitely be in my grade 7 classroom.