Sometimes it takes a family to tell a story.
This is the case in this new book from twins Ryan and R.J. Peete, whose mother, actor Holly Robinson Peete, bookends their tales of how autism affects the personal and familial lives of teenagers. The twins reintroduce the characters of Charlie and Callie, the fictional alter egos the Peetes introduced in the picture book My Brother Charlie, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (2010), now 15. Readers see how Charlie navigates not only repeating ninth grade, particularly having to stay in special ed while Callie advances to 10th grade, but the treacheries of making “so-called friends” who try to take advantage of him, as well as puberty and dating. Callie also negotiates puberty as well as the guilt, rage, and exhaustion knotted in the “why me?” of being “the normal twin.” Charlie and Callie narrate in alternating first-person, present-tense chapters that effectively convey their disparate perspectives, even on such shared events as the death of Charlie’s dog, Toby. Readers will also appreciate that Robinson Peete addresses the very real concern of how autism might affect Charlie/R.J. as a young African-American man whose behavior could be easily—and lethally—misinterpreted by others, as has happened to people of color with disabilities.
Ultimately, what readers take away from this solid book is the abiding sense of love that bonds and binds the twins to each other as they tell their multifaceted truths about living with this little-understood condition. (resources) (Fiction. 12-16)