Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

I don't even know how to write this review. This book blew me away in so many different ways. Marcelo is smart - super smart - actually, he just doesn't come off that way since it takes him ten times as long as anyone else to process anything - verbal or nonverbal communication. He is happy to spend his summer working with the ponies at his school for disabled children until his father, who has never believed there is anything wrong with Marcelo, insists he take a job in the mail room at his law firm in order to become part of the 'real world'. Marcelo is convinced that he will be better off caring for his ponies but agrees to the arrangement. But Marcelo doesn't count on the unlikely friendship that forms between himself and his co-worker Jasmine and the unsettling interest the son of his father's partner, Wendell, shows in him either. Least of all, Marcelo doesn't expect or understand his reaction to the startling picture he finds of a young girl and his desire to help her.

I was so often reminded of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time since both boys like their order and routines, but Marcelo is able to interact with others on a much higher level and brought out more genuine responses than Christopher ever could. The biggest revelation to me was Marcelo's growth, just as his mother predicts, which pervades everything that happens throughout the book. As deep and serious as many of the topics in this book were, I still found it to be hilarious. Marcelo's tendency to literally define every expression to come his way competely endearing and just dang funny. Particularly when he became stumped by some slang term thrown around at the office. And since this book was obviously written by a male author who knows how to write about other men without creating caricatures, one particular scene with some old farmers had me cracking up to no end.

There is so much going on in this book with the underlying theme of music and religion that it was almost too much to take in during one sitting but I couldn't seem to tear myself away until I'd swallowed the story whole.

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