cover image Same but Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express

Same but Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express

Holly Robinson Peete, Ryan Elizabeth Peete, and RJ Peete. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-545-09468-9

The Peetes (My Brother Charlie) revisit the topic of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), this time in a novel featuring fictionalized versions of twin teenagers Ryan Elizabeth and RJ Peete, coauthors with their mother. Fifteen-year-old Callie loves her brother Charlie, yet after years of constant supervision, “Team Charlie” meetings, and explanations to teachers, she is eager to escape the “The Charlie Show when she begins 10th grade while Charlie repeats ninth. Though Charlie is similarly happy to be away from his sister, he needs her love and attention as he navigates a world of mean-spirited friends and dating mishaps, as well as the loss of a favorite pet. The Peetes excel in representing the multiple adjustments needed to accommodate ASD, from the cacophony of sounds, smells, and colors that agitate Charlie to the way a simple dinner must be arranged to avoid an outburst. Told in the alternating voices of Charlie and Callie, the short vignettes are rife with saccharine motivational sayings (“Even though I have autism, autism doesn’t have me”), which detract from an otherwise thoughtful presentation of autism’s impact on a family. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)