REAL, by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard, Shadow Mountain, Feb. 2, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8 and up)
Real, by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard, is a life-changing look at life through the eyes of a non-verbal autistic girl.
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. —Synopsis provided by Shadow Mountain
Real is a fantastic book that should be required reading. It’s one of the most profound middle-grade novels I’ve ever read.
Readers will begin this book with lots of questions. Key among them — how could anyone even imagine what Charity knows, thinks, believes. The further readers get, the clearer those answers become.
You see, Real is inspired by co-author Peyton Goddard who spent 22 years trapped inside her own body. At the age of 6, Peyton was diagnosed as severely autistic. It wasn’t until she gained a dependable mode of communication some 16 years later that she was recognized as intelligent.
This book could not have been written without Peyton. Through her and co-author Carol Cujec, Charity’s voice rings loud and clear. And its clarity is bold and impassioned.
Charity’s journey goes beyond finding her voice. In fact, finding her voice is just the beginning. Themes of anti-bullying, friendship, civil rights, self-acceptance, and preconceived notions are threaded throughout.
Real is a book that will stick with you long after you finish it. It will for sure be on my “Best of 2021” list.
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