I listened to “Marcelo In The Real World” on audiobook and am confident I wouldn’t have experienced it like I did if I had read the hard copy with my eyes.
Why? Well, I’ll get to that.
Seventeen-year-old Marcelo Sandoval best describes his quirks as traits commonly seen with Asperger’s Syndrome. He goes to a special school – Patterson, he has a special interest (what you or I may call an obsession) – religion, and he lives apart from his family – in his treehouse in the back yard.
He has difficulty performing many tasks expected of most people, and he is uncomfortable in many social situations.
Marcelo’s big plans for the summer center around working with the Haflinger ponies at his school, a job he will continue with the next – his final – school year. Before he can start, Arturo, Marcelo’s father, proclaims that Marcelo must join the Real World and work at Arturo’s law firm. If he succeeds there, he can finish school at Patterson. If he fails, he must stay in the Real World and graduate from public school.
Marcelo joins the Real World, and boy howdy, does he get swept right up in the Very Good and Very Ugly that he has been sheltered from at Patterson.
Read by Lincoln Hoppe, the audiobook presents the book at a slower pace, and Hoppe reads in an often-monotone voice similar to how Stork describes Marcelo’s own voice. Listening to this book made me chew on each and every word, the way Marcelo chews on each and every experience and thought.
If I had read this book at my own pace, in my own internal voice, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten Marcelo all wrong and wouldn’t have found such a deep appreciation for his journey. There is so much readers will pick up on right away, perhaps what normally would register as “totally saw that coming” plot twists, but we’re meant to see them and understand them, and we’re meant to watch as Marcelo works things on his own in his own way. If I had read this book instead of listening to it, I probably would have zoomed through the “come on and figure it out already” stuff to get to the resolution of what’s going on around Marcelo, and I would have completely missed out on the bigger picture, which really is a coming-of-age story for Marcelo.
Marcelo works through some problems he faces with some tremendously deep considerations – some of which I must say I don’t always consider in my own life, even when deep considerations are rightfully required. The way his brain forces him to overthink is somewhat of a wake-up call to do the same more often.