author: Francisco X. Stork
main character: Marcelo Sandoval
publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books; 2009
Marcelo is planning his summer job. He intends to finish his senior year in the same school that has nurtured and educated him every year he has been in school well, until his dad decides it’s time for him to face the real world. Marcelo has Aspergers Syndrome and has always attended a school which worked to help him understand his disabilities and develop his abilities. Dad’s tired of the coddling. He thinks that Marcelo is perfectly capable of doing what everyone else does. I don’t think it’s so much about wanting his son to be “normal” as it is wanting his son to grow up: learning how to make his own decisions and accepting the consequences. When dad makes a deal with Marcelo, forcing him to work with in his law office for the summer, you’re left wondering if Marcelo will somehow succeed in this little experiment or if he’ll be able to snuggle back into the security he’s always had.
While the ending is clear, I think the lesson I got from this book is that there is not always a clear black/white or right/wrong decision to make in the adult world.
When Marcelo was sheltered, he was able to fully study and analyze the concept of god. This was what fascinated him, just like sports scores or dates fascinate others who have this Syndrome. The characters in the story are fully developed and as such, it’s difficult for Marcelo to tell the ‘good’ guys from the ‘bad’ guys.
I enjoyed learning how Marcelo’s brain worked as he navigated through life. I think he reminds us all how different each one of us can be, and how gentle we should be with one another because each of us is precious. Sorry, to be so corny and scentimental! The book is NOT a tear-jerker, but it is a well crafted story.