Marcelo is about 17, and maybe on the autism spectrum – at least that’s how his doctor defines his quirks (which include hearing music that no one else can hear). His father arranges for Marcelo to work in his law firm’s mailroom to get some “real world” experience outside the sheltered environment of Marcelo’s small private school.
Marcelo ends up getting way more experience than anyone expected: experience with the city, with people who can and cannot be trusted, with doing the right thing in a setting that doesn’t always ask or expect the right thing, with the very beginning of Being Friends With a Girl. He’s naive to a fault, but also entirely consistent in the ways he moves in the world.
There is a sweetness in this book that really appeals to me. Marcelo is a real person and very true to himself — although his method of determining what is and isn’t okay for him is hyper-logical and consistent with an autism diagnosis. I love the fact that he finds a friend in the book, someone who definitely has his best interests at heart and might eventually come to take a different role in Marcelo’s life. Marcelo in the Real World is a good read for someone who enjoys a good story and strong characters, and for those who might not enjoy the action/thriller/trauma genre.