Books, Reviews

Review of Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

Today’s post is actually the second post for the day; but I wanted to put my thoughts down for this book sooner than later. So here is the book review of Real, a #OwnVoices book by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard.

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Book Review of Real

Book Info

Title: Real
Author: Carol Cujec with Peyton Goddard
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Children’s Fiction/OwnVoices(8 – 11 years, and up)
Publisher: Shadow Mountain(February 2nd 2021)
Source: NetGalley e- ARC (Advance Review Copy)


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, her behavior get her kicked out, or 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

As I wrote this review of Real, I wrote it through the eyes of a parent. While I do not work with or interact with kids like Charity on a regular basis, I spent time with many wonderful differently-abled kids as a parent volunteer at my kids’ elementary schools. I got to know a couple of them very well, and they in turn, grew to know me enough that they greeted me when they saw me outside the school environment (much to their parent’s surprise).

So this review is tough for me; as tough as it was to read the book. So let me explain.. by breaking it down as….

What I Loved About This

I fell in love with the book the moment I read the blurb. And then once I started reading, it constantly tugged at my heart strings; it left me teary-eyed often and I hoped my family did not see me wiping away those tears that threatened.

The Concept

I loved that Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard came together to write this powerful #OwnVoices book. It helps the readers see the world through the protagonist, that is, Charity’s eyes, and definitely made my eyes open wider. And made me pause in my treatment of the world itself, and of how the world treats people who are different.

The Storyline

Did I tell you I shed tears? Of course, I did already. This book has many moments bound to leave you with glimmering shimmering eyes; but there are those that will envelop your heart in a warm hug and others that will make you smile and cheer and whoop with joy too. So be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions as you read it.

The Characters

This book has so many wonderful characters; a whole gamut of them in fact. From the ones you fall in love with and cheer for to those you adore and want to be; and then those on the other side whom you abhor and want to see a nice slice of justice served on.

Of course, I admired and loved Charity; but I totally fell in love with her dad, and her grandparents, her cousin Mason, and yes her mom too. It was heartwarming to see the wonderful support system she, along with other students like her, have in the form of the teachers, the special-education aides, and fellow students at the school the story is set in for the most part.

The First Person Narrative

Using the first person narrative here makes a strong emotional impact on the reader. And knowing that it is co-written with a Own Voices writer, Peyton Goddard, adds to that emotional power this story has.

The Many Positive Messages

I truly was inspired by this book. It carries within its pages many wonderful messages, including those of inclusion, forgiveness, love, friendship, encouragement, trying your best, acceptance, and kindness (among a few).

And Then the Other Side
Not so much a grievance with the book as with the situation

I felt outraged when wrongdoers (especially adults) were seemingly let off the hook way too easily. It was almost as if they suffered no consequences for their wrongdoings.

and the rest

Somehow an implied message that differently-abled people need to be able to contribute on a certain level in society to be welcome there. While I did see references of other differently-abled kids who were less brilliant or rather more normal also being included, the implied message I mention earlier seemed a little too strong for me to ignore. It seemed to lessen the overall impact of the reason for this book.

There were a couple overused clichés – like mean cheerleaders, the cool-kids and the losers lunch tables to name a few. And as a parent to teenagers, when I question them about such happenings at their school, they do state it is not present or to the degree presented in literature or on screen. (Or are we just luckier where we live?)

And since I do not want to introduce more spoilers than necessary, a couple of scenes seemed far-fetched, and left me wondering if something like that would be possible or plausible at all in reality.

In Summary

A book that TOTALLY deserves to be read, not only for the #ownvoices storytelling, but for just what it is – a heartwarming read about including everyone.

Get It Here

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Book review of Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

This book goes towards the NGEW and the AtoZChallenge(the letter R) as well as the February Mini Challenge as well as 52 Week Challenge (set in school and should read in schools)

And if you stayed till this point of my really long book review of Real, thank you!

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, have you read this book? If yes, your thoughts on the book are welcome? If not, I do encourage you to read it. And of course, recommendations on similar books are always welcome.

32 thoughts on “Review of Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

  1. Several of my friends have special needs kids and they opened my eyes to many things. Whatever challenges they face, all people have something unique to offer this world. This book can help to keep the conversation going.

  2. As the mother of a dyslexic daughter and an advocate for many learning-differently children, while working in the public school system as a speech-language pathologist, I understand all the facets you referred to from the story. It is indeed sad when people’s ignorance of basic human kindness and grace rears its ugly head. My hope is that stories like Charity’s will raise the awareness of those who read them and foster a kinder spirit in them.

  3. I work with kids and coordinate their care as a lot of them have special needs and my daughter is an SLP which means I truly appreciate your post about this book.

  4. What a great review! I truly appreciate books like this not just something to read but it has a bigger purpose of spreading awareness and teaching us an important lesson. Looking forward to reading this.

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