I’d like to start the year by giving a plug for one of my very favorite young adult novels: Marcelo In The Real World, by Francisco X. Stork.

If you want something to recommend to a young adult reader, or if you’re looking for a read that will inspire you for the New Year, Marcelo won’t disappoint. Robert Lipsyte of The New York Times Book Review calls Marcelo “The bravest, most original hero I’ve met in years.”

Marcelo, age 17, hears music no one else hears—part of an autism-like condition that no doctor has been able to identify. His passions are horses (he works in a stable), classical music, and thinking about God. This is Marcelo’s world.

Unfortunately, his father, the head of a prominent law firm, does not really accept Marcelo’s world or his condition. He believes Marcelo should come down to earth and learn to live in the real world. To aid in this wished-for transition, his father insists that Marcelo spend the summer working in the mail room of his law firm.

While working there, Marcelo does indeed discover the “real world”, just not in the way that his father—or we readers—expect. One of the final scenes is heart stopping.

Written with great empathy, wisdom and gentle humor, Marcelo In The Real World is a stirring introduction to Francisco X Stork’s writings…and to the New Year.


Geoffery Moore