Book Review: Real by Carol Cujec w/ Peyton Goddard

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Title: Real

Author(s): Carol Cujec, Peyton Goddard (contributer)

Genre: Realistic Middle Grade Fiction

Number of Pages: 234

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No

I was so disappointed by this book. I was really excited about reading a book from the POV of a non-verbal autistic child, because it seemed like it would be fascinating and as far as I know no other novel on this particular subject exists. Real started out good- you could really get a strong sense of how frustrated the main character was being unable to communicate her needs to the people around her.

It was a little heavy handed at times and I feel like it tried to tackle too many autism-related topics at once, but I was initially pulled into the inner world of the main character, Charity. The second half of the book where Charity is mainstreamed and learns to communicate on a keyboard is when things started to go downhill. The supporting characters were really one-dimensional and I got so tired of the mean girl characters incessantly saying ‘hashtag’ in daily conversation. I don’t think anybody does that in real life and it was really stereotypical and annoying. The final courtroom scene was so melodramatic and over-the-top, like a bad movie.

Everything came together perfectly for Charity in the end and everybody just went ahead and forgot that she threw a snow globe at a guy’s head during a meltdown and could have seriously injured him. If it were my school I’m not sure I would want her to stay there, but the whole scene with Charity being backed up by a group of personal cheerleaders in court as she gives an inspiring (typed) speech left a sickeningly sweet taste in my mouth. I understand why this book wants to send an uplifting message, but that doesn’t mean it should be a fairy tale.


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