Marcelo, a teen on the high functioning end of autism/Asberger's Syndrome, had planned to spend his summer working with the Haflinger ponies at his school, Paterson. Instead, he ends up working for his father’s law firm in the mail room in order to earn the right from his father to choose where he wants to go to school next year. His father wants him in a regular high school, while Marcelo wants to go back to Paterson. After years of being protected from the real world at Paterson, Marcelo must learn to navigate the complexities of everyday life at the law firm.
Marcelo is a likeable character, who is often mistaken for being dumb because of his condition. It is despicable how some of the people at the law firm treat him and attempt to use him, especially Wendell. Despite the belief that he is less intelligent because of his condition, we know Marcelo to be a highly intelligent and thoughtful narrator. He thinks things through, often in great detail, something we could all learn from. This intelligence is evident from the very beginning of the novel.
The issues in Marcelo in the Real World are many and complex. Interpersonal relationships are hard for Marcelo to understand, and it is interesting watching his development, as he makes more and more sense of the world around him. His special interest in religion gives him the ability to determine what is the right and moral course for his actions and his life. As the summer progresses Marcelo becomes stronger in character and his skills at reading people continue to develop.
This was a wonderful book, both interesting and complex with a completely likeable narrator in Marcelo. Definitely a must read. Highly recommended.
Cautions for sensitive readers: There is some discussion of sex in this book, but there is no actual sex in this book. Some mild language is used in the book, but it is rare.