Posted by: Burlington Public Library (WA) | August 20, 2010

Two books that give glimpses of other lives

I am amazed at how well some authors can get inside their character’s mind and life.  Here are two examples of this I’ve read recently:

“Marcelo Sandoval is a high-functioning, extremely self-aware teenager with Asperger’s syndrome. He has an empathetic mother and a father, Arturo, who appears to be less empathetic as he pushes Marcelo to live in the “real world.” The form the real world takes is a summer job in the mailroom at Arturo’s law office. The teen is forced to think on his feet, multitask, and deal with duplicitous people who try to take advantage of him. Over the course of a summer, Marcelo learns that he can function in society; he is especially surprised to find that he can learn to read people’s expressions, even to the point of knowing whom he can and cannot trust. Writing in a first-person narrative, Stork does an amazing job of entering Marcelo’s consciousness and presenting him as a dynamic, sympathetic, and wholly believable character.”   School Library Journal review of Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Booklist review of Blame, by Michelle Huneven: “ When college professor Patsy MacLemoore comes to in the drunk tank of the Altadena sheriff’s department, she can’t remember what she’s done. All she knows is that she has been there before and vowed she’d never return. This time it turns out that Patsy has killed two Jehovah’s Witnesses, a mother and daughter, while driving on a suspended license. She’s sentenced to four years in prison, and her life is never the same. From the horrific noise and filth of prison life to her membership in AA to her eventual release and slow climb back to normalcy, Patsy struggles to come to terms with the repercussions of her drunken blackout.”

Books like these help me feel I understand a little bit more about conditions I’m not familiar with.  Stork’s humor and depth presents Asperger’s syndrome in a new light for me, I feel that I understand the condition a bit better.  And Huneven writes in a very “unpreachy” way about someone who hits bottom and finds their way back to life with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous.

What books have helped change your perceptions?

–Janice

Place a hold on Marcelo in the Real World or Blame at the Burlington Public Library.

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