Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo, diagnosed as having Asperger’s syndrome is happy in his comfortable life, guided by his organized and familiar routine. He hears music in his mind that noone else can hear, he has a deep desire to learn about religion and he loves his school, Paterson, where he works as a stable hand tending to the ponies. However Marcelo’s father Arturo does not believe that anything is really wrong with his son. He feels that Marcelo ‘s mother and doctors are being over indulgent and protective and that Marcelo needs to grow up, attend the public high school in Oak Hills and learn to get along in the “real world”.
In order to prove that he is right about his son, Arturo makes a deal…instead of spending his summer working at Paterson with the ponies, Marcelo will come to work in the mailroom of his lawfirm, where if he learns to interact with “normal” people and completes his tasks satisfactorily, then he will be allowed to choose which school he will attend in the fall. If he fails, he will automatically have to go to Oak Hills High School. After careful consideration, Marcelo realizes that if he wants to stay at his beloved school, then he must accept his father’s deal. Besides, three months isn’t that long, is it?
And so begins Marcelo’s journey into the “real world”. He befriends his beautiful mail room co-worker Jasmine and learns more than he cares to know about life from Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns not only about anger, jealousy and beauty, but also that life is not always black and white, that it is full of moral ambiguities of which not even his father is immune.
Stork has created a wonderful story for older teens, told from a unique perspective it shows the different ways of interpreting what what the “real world” is really like and it means to grow up.