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Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite
“Why can’t we just be like everyone else?” lamented Shaina. Thirteen-year-old eighth-grader Shaina has three brothers, and two of them, Darren and Terry, have autism. While Darren prefers to be alone and does not like to talk to people, Terry plays drums on pots and pans, screams in crowds, and reacts to loud noises. Shaina is a good student and hopes to be accepted by a parochial high school. She is also expected to take responsibility for her brothers at times, and this can be difficult for her. Shaina has not told her three best friends at school about her brothers. In this book based on a true story, Shaina’s World: My Family and Autism, penned by Sharice Rascoe, the everyday challenges of autism are described.
One of the most important aspects of this book is the effects of autism on siblings. Shaina is a bright and typical thirteen-year-old teenager who wishes her life could be “normal.” The author illustrates how families’ lives with an autistic child or children are affected – including financial implications. The plot is realistic, and the writing is geared towards older elementary school children. Children of this age group are highly sensitive to being different from others, and this is captured well. The illustrations will also be appealing to the targeted audience. Author Sharice Rascoe has written a heartwarming, compelling novel for this age group in Shaina’s World: My Family and Autism. It will speak to many young people who are living in similar circumstances.