Stork, Francisco X. 2009. MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545054744 [Suggested Grade Levels 9- 12]
Marcelo lives his life on the high-functioning end of the Autism spectrum, and does so very comfortably until the summer before his last year of high school. Marcelo’s father decides it’s time for him to join the “real world,” and the two make a deal. If Marcelo works in his father’s law firm for the entire summer, he gets to return to his special needs school in the fall. If he refuses, he has to spend his senior year at a public school. Marcelo chooses the law firm.
The rest of the story explores Marcelo’s struggle with the nuances of emotion that come from interacting with his new friends Jasmine and Wendell. He confronts jealousy, competition and anger, and is challenged to fight for what he begins to feel is an injustice done by his father’s law firm. Stork’s writing is clear and poignant, and Marcelo’s voice as he narrates his own story is simultaneously innocent and wise, providing a unique look at human emotion and a compelling read.
This story is so powerful largely because it is narrated in first person and the reader experiences events from Marcelo’s point of view. Have readers imagine the story from another character’s point of view – such as his father’s or Jasmine’s – and have them focus on how they might process emotion and humor differently.
Other young adult novels about kids with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome:
Baskin, Nora Raleigh. ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL. ISBN 9781416963783
Choldenko, Gennifer. AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS. ISBN 9780399238611
Dowd, Siobhan. THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY. ISBN 9780375949760
Haddon, Mark. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. ISBN 9780385512107
By Cecily Ponce de Leon