Many thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on board this Random Things blog tour for This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech, and to Karen at Orenda for sending me an ARC for review purposes. It’s my first Louise Beech book, and it definitely won’t be my last!
Read on for the publishers synopsis, followed by my thoughts.
Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely.
Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.
Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.
A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with an emotional core that will warm and break your heart.
When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.
I had already seen some excitement on Twitter about this book before I started reading, so I was very much looking forward to picking it up. From the moment I did, I was captivated by the story, and it wasn’t long before the characters captured my heart – I devoured it in the space of two days.
Sebastian is twenty years old. He is a trainee brick-layer who loves swimming and eggs. He lives at home with his mum, and he happens to be autistic. Like many other twenty year olds, he thinks about sex a lot. In fact, his autism probably causes him to be fixated on sex. But he has never had a girlfriend and struggles to make friends because of past cruel experiences he has had at school and in college.
Veronica is Sebastian’s mum. She has single-handedly raised him since her husband’s untimely death. Her care for Sebastian is central in her life, as is her desire for his happiness. She is desperate for him to experience normality, but is all too aware of how cruel and judgemental the world can be.
Isabelle is a trainee nurse specialising in special needs patients. Her previously comfortable life is thrown into turmoil when her father has an accident. Isabelle finds herself facing some tough decisions about how she will shoulder her financial responsibilities, and sees no option but to become a high-class escort.
This is what it is to be human is the story of what happens when Sebastian, Veronica and Isabelle’s lives collide, where each character is sent down an unforeseen path, and their experiences change them completely.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s one I will be thrusting into the hands of willing readers, and I will also be buying a copy for our staff library! As a teacher, I know lots of primary aged children with autism, but I have never deeply considered what happens when children with autism become adults – with the same bodies and bodily needs as their contemporaries. The characters within this book are just so wonderfully human and flawed. Louise Beech has created such a memorable and special story here with Veronica, Sebastain and Isabelle. I cared so much about the three of them, and sobbed my way through the last few chapters.
I absolutely LOVED it.
Get yourself a copy now! It’s available from 10th June online and through the usual outlets.
Don’t forget to check out what the other bloggers have to say. The tour continues throughout June.
Thanks for reading,
About the author:
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. Follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseWriter and visit her website: louisebeech.co.uk.