Free Marcus Katz: A Curated Collection of Yelp Reviews - by Howard Chesley

“It opened my eyes”     

– Temple Grandin

Marcus Katz delights in writing Yelp reviews in which he also uninhibitedly talks about his life while reviewing local restaurants and businesses. Marcus, who has Asperger’s Syndrome lives pleasantly in an apartment over his mom’s garage in Westside Los Angeles.  When his doting mother dies, a rapacious court-appointed conservator warehouses him in a dismal group home. Distraught, he runs away, pursued by his conservator, on an ill-advised road trip, spurred on by hazy plans to meet up with a woman, also on the spectrum, that he met online who lives in a commune in Oregon.  The outcome turns out to be life-changing for Marcus.

“A clever work with an intriguing format and a memorable protagonist.”

“…the book’s zippy pacing and short length keep the novel moving along at a brisk pace. Marcus’ story also raises intriguing questions about the nature of conservatorship while demonstrating the ways that people form communities online—and how these can spill over into one’s personal life. “

-Kirkus Reviews


“Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I absolutely loved Free Marcus Katz… Marcus felt like an authentic autistic character, without falling into stereotypes. I also appreciated that this novel had multiple autistic characters who had their own distinct personalities and challenges. The story was obviously very topical, and demonstrated the seriousness of Marcus’s conservatorship issues while still maintaining an exciting, adventure novel feel. A great read!”

-Hilary Martin | Netgalley Reviewer

“It is with great excitement that we are ready to share with you the 2022-23 school year’s PrepReads community text.  The book of choice is Free Marcus Katz: A Curated Collection of Yelp Reviews”.

-Flintridge Preparatory School

“The clever format of creating a book in the form of Yelp reviews for businesses will make the reader think about serious abuses of people with disabilities. Autistic people, elders, and individuals with intellectual disabilities may lose their legal rights when relatives and other people form conservatorships for their own financial gain. The reviews alternate between fun to read descriptions to restaurants and hotels to reviews of law offices and a dingy group home that contains the book’s serious message. It opened my eyes to use of the legal system to abuse individuals who are fully capable of making their own decisions.”

-Temple Grandin
Author: Thinking in Pictures

“Another Howard Chesley page turner with a compelling story and a wonderful, engaging hero.”

-David Peoples
Writer: Blade Runner and Unforgiven


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. saw that this said fiction, but somehow in my mind, it consisted of genuine Yelp reviews by an individual. So much so, I spent an hour looking for his father’s obituary online. So kudos to the author for creating a concept and character that felt so genuine. “

-Sue Fernandez | Netgalley Reviewer

“Booker Prize nominee Howard Marc Chesley’s new novel is a charming, insightful, moving, funny tale of one young’s man movement through a confusing and heartbreaking world, all seen through the reviews he leaves on Yelp. Whether he’s at a new-to-him restaurant or in a law office, navigating legal troubles foisted on him by circumstances beyond his control, he reveals his everyday yearnings and his wildest dreams in his miniature reviews. A portrait emerges of a man who wants something more… and just might get it.”

– Craig Lancaster
Author: 600 Hours of Edward 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. ‘Free Marcus Katz’ by Howard Marc Chesley is not my normal type of read but the intriguing format caught my eye – oh I am so glad I took a chance! This book is equal parts adorable, hilarious and poignant, cleverly written exclusively as Yelp reviews by the eponymous Marcus Katz (but unfortunately fictional!).

Overall, this is a cleverly structured book. You would have to be cold of heart to not fall for Marcus and care deeply about his health and happiness – I certainly did! 5 stars.

-Poppy Nobes  | Netgalley Reviewer

Howard Chesley


Howard Marc Chesley is an author and a graduate of the Johns Hopkins writing seminars.  He has worked as a writer of film and television and his first novel, “Some Books Aren’t for Reading,” was nominated for a 2019 Booker prize. 

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