Inspired by a true story. 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.
Carol Cujec, PhD, has worked as a writer and educator for two decades. Her own teaching and parenting experiences have given her welcomed insights into celebrating neurodiversity. Carol lives in San Diego with her husband, three children, and a mischievous orange tabby. Peyton Goddard is an advocate for inclusion and has written about and made many presentations on living with autism. Her message is one of valuing all people and protecting those most vulnerable from abuse which she experienced for several decades when she lacked a dependable mode of communication. Her message centers on "changing this worrisome world" through compassionate understanding and support for all. Peyton lives with support in her own apartment, adjacent to her parents' home in San Diego.