Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo in the Real World
Good Reads Summary
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm.

He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file -- a picture of a girl with half a face -- that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.

Reminiscent of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary novel is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, here’s the thing: I’m almost afraid to say anything bad about this book. Is it because the lead is sweet? Is it because the story is sweet but not all sweet all the time that I’m finding that same feeling after reading Perks of Being?

Marcello is third person referring, open and innocent but not unaware. He has his choices and a definite plan, is determined to do things one way as he sees thing a certain way no others will ever get. In fact, it’s less about his descriptions of Internal Music and ‘special interests’ and more of his doubts over things as well as his questions and learning to be in the oft referred ‘real world’ that have him standing out. Because he is so different that he reads open, unsullied, questioning, and not necessarily unaware… but perhaps... uninvolved?

It’s this last fact that has his father pushing to become more involved. And involved he does become as more and more people are touched one way or another by his presence. The kid is endearing, stands out in how out of place he felt and could act yet still he manages to connect with so many people in such deep levels. It’s surprising. And I’m sorry… I found myself not quite buying it.

-Is the story sweet and uplifting? Yes.
-Is the character innocent, questioning and open? Certainly.
-Must he be the medium through which people make certain realizations? Yes.
-Do I have problem with this? No…erh.. maybe?
Surely, it’s not always the case here mind you. As it’s a two way street with him learning the rules of the oft referred ‘real world’ while others make realizations given his (un)expected deep, deep  observations that come out of almost every other moment of interaction with him.
-Anyway, does his portrayal play into some stereotype I cannot put my finger on? A little… it just feels boxed in all this good coming out with the help of the unsullied. Sure, it’s not a bad idea, and sure it does happen, but still...

What did resound with me is the more specific relationship between a father wanting what’s best, thinking he knows the only way to go about it and a son who sees things a certain way and asks questions. It’s Marcello’s asides on trust and believing in and the line that distinguishes the two that kept me going.

Overall, this was an OK read.

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