Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork

I read Marcelo and I loved it.  I could end this review there and call it a day, but I figure you’re probably here for more than that.  You’re here for all the pertinent review questions.  Sure, it’s great that I loved it, but why? I’m having difficulty articulating that because I read Marcelo in the Real World so long ago and haven’t had the chance to sit down and review it.  So I’m going to tell you in the simplest words I can:

I loved Marcelo because I loved Marcelo.

I loved Marcelo because I loved every other character, too.  There is not a secondary character in here – they are all beautifully realistic.  Stork, through Marcelo’s voice, breathed life into these people; they felt real in the best way that characters can.

I loved Marcelo because it has some serious cross-over potential.  In fact, I think the publishers might have made a mistake.  Why is Marcelo YA?  Well, because it has a young, teenage protagonist with a voice that sounds younger in some respects, but also much older.  This novel is often compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, understandably: but why is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time an adult novel and Marcelo in the Real World a young adult novel?  But where, for me, The Curious Incident lacked feeling and left me cold and unconnected, Marcelo was filled to bursting with emotion and feeling and discovery.  What Marcelo in the Real World can offer an adult is completely different from what it can offer a young reader (as is true of most books, but bear with me).  Marcelo is almost 18, but he has an autism-like condition that makes him very brilliant, but socially and emotionally different.  Marcelo’s dad is convinced that he can make it in the real world, if he just tries.  So he hires him in the mail room at his office.  What Marcelo learns there is a very grown up lesson and it would do any adult some good to look at this conflict with eyes as fresh as Marcelo’s.

So none of that is to say that this book isn’t fit for young adults, because it definitely is.  It’s just to say give me an adult who “doesn’t like YA” and I will give them Marcelo.

I love Marcelo because of this:

Actually, I am asking myself if conversations with friends always feel like this — two minds bound together by their focus on the same subject (89).

And this:

I stay up listening to her fall asleep, feeling how it is not to be alone (261).

And this:

I take as long as I can wiping my hands.  Now it seems funny to me that I got so nervous at the thought of sleeping next to Jasmine.  What is happening?  Yesterday, Jonah asked me if was sexually attracted to Jasmine and that notion seemed shocking to me.  And now there is this.  I touch my abdomen where I feel a tingling.  That’s what “butterflies in the stomach” feel like.  These butterflies were let loose by what?  The first one or two came out when Jasmine talked about the Internal Music and how I could be flesh and blood like her, for instance, and then thousands fluttered when she pointed at the spot where we will sleep together.  They are not unpleasant, these butterflies.  Their tiny wings are pulling me out, tickling me with the anticipation of lying next to Jasmine (257).

So, if I haven’t convinced you yet that I loved this book, I’m not sure what else I could tell you.  Get out there and get reading.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR

Also reviewed by: 1330v, The Compulsive Reader, Book Addiction, Fledgling, The YA YA YAs , bookshelves of doom, TV and Book Addict, stuff as dreams are made on.

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23 thoughts on “Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork

  1. I’m so glad you loved this book! It’s so great. I think some of my favorite parts of it has to do with Marcelo’s conversations with the Rabbi. Can Stork please write a book with her as the main character? 😉

  2. I’m glad you pointed out the difference for you between Marcelo and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I’ve seen Curious Incident, so many times in the bookshops and even at Costco, that I’ve always been tempted to buy it. But may eventually look into this book instead. I don’t read much YA, but I have a seven year old who loves to read…so one day I imagine reading these books along with her.

    1. Lourdes: I read Curious Incident so long ago, but honestly I was very underwhelmed. It was a unique voice to be sure, but other than that I just wasn’t impressed. I think Marcelo just did a better job on all accounts! Outside of book blogging, one of the reasons I got back into reading YA was so I could read the same books my younger sister is reading. It’s been good for bonding 🙂

  3. 😀 I hope everybody reads this now because of your review Lu!!! I loved this book so damn much!!! Marcelo was such a wonderful character. I agree with you so much there. I loved all the characters. And I was just so happy with this book as a whole. It just made me smile and want to hug it. Fabulous review 🙂

    1. Chris: 😀 I added your review to the links, it didn’t show up before for some reason. This book is definitely smile-inducing and a great read. It absolutely deserves a hug. Thank you for the compliments! !

  4. I loooooved this book so freaking much. Seriously, looking back on it, it was absolutely one of my favorite books I read last year. I’m so happy to read of your love for it! 🙂

  5. I trust your recommendations 100 percent — and I’m definitely going to be getting this one soon! I did try and read The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time a year or two ago and pushed it aside after 70 pages or so… because, as you mention, I felt no emotional connection to the characters. Without that? A book loses my attention pretty quickly. Great review — can’t wait to read this!

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