Imagine Curious Incident of the Dog . . . with a romance, and you have the beginnings of this story of a young man struggling with the world outside his head--and the woman who gets inside it.The term "cognitive disorder" implies there is something wrong with the way I think or the way I perceive reality. I perceive reality just fine. Sometimes I perceive more of reality than others.Marcelo Sandoval hears music that nobody else can hear - part of an autism-like condition that no doctor has been able to identify. But his father has never fully believed in the music or Marcelo's differences, and he challenges Marcelo to work in the mailroom of his law firm for the summer . . . to join "the real world."There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file - a picture of a girl with half a face - that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.
Artfully crafted characters form the heart of Stork's (The Way of the Jaguar) judicious novel. Marcelo Sandoval, a 17-year-old with an Asperger's-like condition, has arranged a job caring for ponies at his special school's therapeutic-riding stables. But he is forced to exit his comfort zone when his high-powered father steers Marcelo to work in his law firm's mailroom (in return, Marcelo can decide whether to stay in special ed, as he prefers, or be mainstreamed for his senior year). Narrating with characteristically flat inflections and frequently forgetting to use the first person, Marcelo manifests his anomalies: he harbors an obsession with religion (he regularly meets with a plainspoken female rabbi, though he's not Jewish); hears "internal" music; and sleeps in a tree house. Readers enter his private world as he navigates the unfamiliar realm of menial tasks and office politics with the ingenuity of a child, his voice never straying from authenticity even as the summer strips away some of his differences. Stork introduces ethical dilemmas, the possibility of love, and other "real world" conflicts, all the while preserving the integrity of his characterizations and intensifying the novel's psychological and emotional stakes. Not to be missed. Ages 14 up.
I despised & pitied Marcelo's co-worker Wendell as much as I admired & empathized with our main character Marcelo.
Jasmine is the most heroic to me - see if you agree. Notice how Marcelo evolves to where he can see through others' eyes. Revel in his voice.
Conversations between Marcelo & the Rabbi became a bit lengthy for me, but I adored that Marcelo's one intensive interest (religion) was seen as PERVASIVE, not OBSESSIVE. High-functioning autism is further understood & valued in this stunning book. Thank you.