Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork 2009
IQ “Boy you really break things down, don’t you?” Jonah
“Some say it is an illness.” Marcelo
“We should all be so ill.” Jonah
There’s so much you can say about this amazing, wonderful, beautiful, tremendous, stupendous novel, but at the same time I don’t feel that I can adequately express how much impact this novel had on me. It blew me away. It’s so powerful. It’s ultimately about the loss of innocence and how we can fight injustice. It also made me think about why God allows suffering?
Marcelo in the Real World is about a 17 year old guy whose father forces him to work at his law firm. Marcelo’s father believes there is nothing wrong with him and he wants Marcelo to learn how to interact with people and work in the “real world”. Marcelo works in the mailroom with his beautiful boss, Jasmine whose not much older than him. He also meets Wendell, the son of another partner at the law firm (Marcelo’s father and Wendell’s father are the two partners). In the law firm, Marcelo learns a lot about the real world. He learns about social dos and don’ts, competition, lust and anger. He also learns about suffering, injustice and compassion.
Marcelo is the perfect example of a lovable, innocent character. I didn’t know anything about Asperger’s syndrome (a disorder he has, it’s a form of autism where people have difficulties with social interaction and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. According to Wikipedia), but most of the time I forgot he had a type of autism and just thought he was a brilliant, but awkward kid. Learning about Asperger’s was interesting. Marcelo refers to himself in third-person and calls his parents by their first names (Aurora and Arturo). He hears music in his head, internal music. “How do I describe it? It is like listening to very loud music with headphones. Only the music seems to be coming from inside the brain. It is actually a very neat sensation.”
One of Marcelo’s main interests besides music is religion. He is friends with a rabbi, Rabbi Heschel, and they discuss religion regularly. He reads Scripture quotes it and reads various books about various religions. These conversations between the rabbi and Marcelo were very interesting and enlightening to me. I’m currently struggling with my own faith and these conversations gave me something to think about. “You’re worried about upgrading your Mercedes or about whether so-and-so is sitting closer to the Tabernacle and all along God is dying for help. It’s urgent! He’s urging you. The urges that you feel are to do His work-you’re getting the signals all mixed up. You think He’s asking you to be a big success in whatever it is that you’re ambitious about, and that’s not what He wants from you at all….But His urges are always toward life and more life and forgiveness and more forgiveness.” Pg. 277-278
I also think this book deals with sex, lust and desire in a different and interesting way. I feel that it explains it differently; Marcelo doesn’t really understand lust or love. Several characters try to teach him about the difference and their perspective, as well as his was refreshing.
My favorite character was Jasmine. She is sarcastic, lovable, kind and a good teacher to Marcelo about life in the real world. I wanted to smack Wendell every other page he was mentioned.
Marcelo in the Real World is one of those books you just have to re-read. It sits on your bedside table, waiting to be read whether you are happy, sad, confused, lost, or angry.
Read this book regardless of your religious beliefs, gender, background, etc. This is the ultimate MUST READ. High school and up.Thanks so much for this book Edi!