All 17-year-old Marcelo wants to do this summer is work at his high school, Paterson, helping to train the ponies he loves. Too bad his dad has different ideas.
Marcelo's dad, Arturo, wants his son to spend the summer working in the real world, which means working in the mailroom of his dad's law firm. Marcelo, who has an autism-like condition, is terrified, but he strikes a deal with his dad- if he succeeds in following all the rules of the real world, he will be allowed to return to Paterson for his senior year. If he fails, he will have to go to public high school in the fall.
At first, things seem to go okay. Though his new boss, the smart and spunky Jasmine, is NOT happy about having Marcelo instead of the promised intern Belinda, Jasmine accepts Marcelo for who he is. The secretaries confuse Marcelo, but he manages to stay out of their clutches. And his dad's partner's son, Wendell, a senior at Harvard interning over the summer, seems to want to be his friend. In fact, Wendell even talks Arturo into letting Marcelo help him out with the Vitromek case, the firm's biggest and most important client. A company that makes windshield glass, Arturo's firm is in the middle of denying multiple lawsuits claiming that Vitromek's windshields do not shatter the way they are supposed to in accidents.
Though the Vitromek case takes away from his time in the mailroom with Jasmine, Marcelo wants to make his father happy. But when he unexpectedly discovers a photo of a girl whose face has been horrifically disfigured by Vitromek windshields, his summer plans are turned upside down. With Jasmine's help, Marcelo finds himself breaking all of his carefully constructed rules to track down the truth about the girl, the law farm, and his father.
One of the best books I have read this year, Marcelo's summer is one fabulous story about the choices we make, the impact they have on others, the thin line between right and wrong, and what it means to be human. If you've ever questioned the rules and order of the real world, check out Marcelo in the Real World @ the library!
(now alternating between The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headly)