If ever there was a book about the struggle to communicate, it's Marcelo in the Real World. Our hero Marcelo's got something resembling Asperger's Syndrome, which means that other people seem even more baffling to him than they do to the rest of us. He doesn't get stuff like facial expressions or figures of speech. Sure, we all have times when we have no clue what other people are talking about, but Marcelo's actually had to take classes in figuring it out. Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world where someone tells you it's raining cats and dogs and you run to the window to look for falling animals? If you took all human speech literally and couldn't read context—like facial expressions, for example—the "real world" would get really exhausting really fast. It's no wonder Marcelo would rather chill with the horses than with other human beings.
The better he learns to communicate with other people, the more Marcelo loses his IM.
Understanding the suffering religion alleviates is one of the ways Marcelo attempts to understand human emotion and the needs of "normal" people.