Saturday, November 21, 2009

Marcelo in the Real World

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
17-year-old Marcelo is on the very high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, and his classes at Paterson have taught him many skills for living in the "real world." However, his high-powered lawyer father isn't satisfied with Marcelo's progress, and insists that the boy take a summer job at the law firm, rather than working with the ponies in the therapeutic riding center at Paterson.

At the law firm, Marcelo meets people from all ends of the "real world" spectrum, including musically-talented Jasmine in the mail room, snobbish personal secretaries, and the lecherous son of one of the lawyers. Marcelo also becomes personally involved in the law firm's biggest cases when he discovers the photograph of a victim in the trash, and decides that he must take action.

Marcelo's strong, distinctive voice tells the unusual story of a self-possessed teen who is eager to fit in without sacrificing his own values and interests. No cussing or kissing; however, there is much thought and discussion about sex and sexual attraction (the whole concept baffles Marcelo), but no action on-page.
Highly recommended for readers ages 14 to adult. Those who enjoyed the voice of Christopher in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Haddon) will love reading about Marcelo's adventures in the real world.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
16-year-old Astrid Llewelyn's mother had always told her daughter that real unicorns are not flying, sparkley, pinkish-purple fairy-tale beasts, but rather murderous, poisonous monsters (now extinct) that could only be killed by virgin girls like Astrid.

Of course, Astrid's mom was a complete kook.

That's what Astrid thought, anyhow, until the night when her boyfriend got himself gored by a murderous, poisonous monster with a single horn growing out of its head.

Sent to Rome against her will to train with other virgin huntresses against the re-emerging threat of bloodthirsty unicorns, Astrid learns about magic, romance, and her family's history...and learns some interesting stuff about her mother, as well.

A strong narrative voice and some excellent butt-kicking battle scenes, interspersed with scenes of sexual questioning, including the role of virginity, the definition of rape, and the power of love.

No cussing, a fair amount of blood spilled in battle, no sex on-page, and lots of kissing and sexual longings. For readers tired of vampires and zombies, this is a natural next choice. Recommended for ages 12 to adult.