February 8, 2021

Real

Real

by Carol Cujec, Peyton Goddard

Published February 2, 2021
by Shadow Mountain Publishing

Rating: 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Children’s Fiction

My name is Charity. I am thirteen years old. Actually, thirteen years plus eighty-seven days. I love sour gummies and pepperoni pizza. That last part no one knows because I have not spoken a sentence since I was born. Each dawning day, I live in terror of my unpredictable body that no one understands.

Charity may have mad math skills and a near-perfect memory, but with a mouth that can’t speak and a body that jumps, rocks, and howls unpredictably, most people incorrectly assume she cannot learn. Charity’s brain works differently from most people’s because of her autism, but she’s still funny, determined, and kind. So why do people treat her like a disease or ignore her like she’s invisible?

When Charity’s parents enroll her in a public junior high school, she faces her greatest fears. Will kids make fun of her? Will her behavior get her kicked out? Will her million thoughts stay locked in her head forever? With the support of teachers and newfound friends, Charity will have to fight to be treated like a real student.

Inspired by a true story, Real speaks to all those who’ve ever felt they didn’t belong and reminds readers that all people are worthy of being included.

My thoughts:

Inspired by a true story, this book takes us on a journey of an autistic, non-verbal teenage girl’s life through her mind. Her mind is her voice – a voice that is desperate to communicate with others. What I love most about Charity is the unconditional love and support she has from her mother and father. They are her advocates who encourage and cheer her on, even when she wants to give up. It’s heartbreaking to see Charity dealing with the bullies at school, when all she wants to do is fit in and make friends. She also has family members who are uncomfortable being around her and don’t know what to do or how to act. But through her daily struggles she pushes forward, battling each obstacle as best she can. With the help of teachers and new friends, she’s finally able to learn to speak through a tablet. Her voice can finally be heard. And people are listening.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand autism better. And who better to understand it than from someone who lives with it every day. As a mother to an 8 year old autistic son, I will always worry about how others see him or if they treat him differently. My fear is that I can’t always protect him from the bullies or people whispering behind their back. But I will forever be his advocate and I will let him know every day how very much loved he is. Charity is a strong, courageous girl who is making a difference in the world by being the voice for others who can’t speak. Hopefully others who read this book can understand and learn not to judge a book by its cover. 

Thank you Netgalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

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