Scoop of the e-e-evening: Marcelo in the Real World

It’s hard, sometimes, when quiet, thoughtful books run their hands over religion. There’s relief, at first, because for once holy books and holy teachers are taken seriously, but there’s also the temptation to assume that, since the author is shedding light on truth, all his conclusions are truthful. Scraping ointment away from a little fly feels nitpicky in a reviewer, but lumping wisdom with truth feels even worse. There is a difference between the two. A vital difference. So I scrape.

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Marcelo is a teenager with low-functioning Asperger’s syndrome—his brain over-processes information, and requires order above all things. He’s comfortable with the daily routine he has kept for years, but his father thinks it’s time for Marcelo to step out into the real world.

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Marcelo in the Real World stages big questions: with all the suffering in the world, why do we go on living? What if someone doesn’t believe in God? Is He still there? Some of the author’s replies are gorgeously spot-on ... and then, hazy, grey ideas slip through, muddying the waters. “What else can we do but trust that He is at the source of what we feel and hope He is at the end of what we want to do? Trust the sense you have that you are traveling the right direction because, when it comes down to it, that ... is all you have.”

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What about, “If ye abide in my word, ye shall be my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Marcelo may have head knowledge of God, but he doesn’t have the personal relationship that lights a disciple’s path.

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Back and forth. The author reveals blazing brilliance: “Our effort is but a counterpoint in the music of His will.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel) And bland bleating: “She doesn’t need to believe in God or even remember Him to do His work. Her belief is in her deeds, which is okay.... Thoughts about Him are not what He wants. He wants deeds.”

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There’s a lot of wisdom in Marcelo in the Real World, and a bit of truth, as well. The tricky part for teenage readers will be to distinguish between the two.

6 comments:

Christy said...

Hey! I'm tagging you to fill out the bookshelf meme! Thanks so much :]

Here's the link to where you were tagged...

http://horslv93.blogspot.com/2009/03/bookshelf-meme.html

Christy said...

Whoops! Marie told me you already filled out one of those memes! I'm sorry. If you'd like to do it again, you may. Sorry.

Noel De Vries said...

Not a problem, Christy! :) You can read mine here:

http://noeldevries.blogspot.com/2009/01/bookshelf-meme.html

Marie DeVries said...

*sigh* isn't everything hard enough already? why do people have to keep complicating things? sometimes things like what you pulled out of this book make me crazy :( ...

Kelly said...

I noticed this on the library shelf this week so I picked it up. Maybe I'll move it to the end of my pile...I'm kind of in the mood for 100% amazing books right now!

sally apokedak said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Marcello, Noel. I think the books that have some truth but mix it up with error are some of the hardest to read and review.