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.
When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.
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.
|Publisher: Orenda Books|
|Format: Ebook (10 April 2021) | Paperback (10 June 2021)|
|Page Count: 289|
|Source: Review copy|
My thanks to THE Book Club Reviewer Group for the e-copy to review.
I’ve read and enjoyed every one of Louise Beech’s six previous books and all have been reviewed here on the blog. Her seventh, This is How We Are Human is another brilliantly thought provoking and moving read from the pen of this extremely talented author.
Sebastian James Murphy is 20 years 6 months and 2 days old at the start of the book. Sebastian has autism and there are things that are very important to him – including his fish, fried eggs, and routines. He is also obsessed with sex, or rather the lack of it, which his mother Veronica seeks to resolve.
The characters in this story just broke my heart. Sebastian who is bullied for being different. He constantly faces prejudice but ultimately just wants to be loved and accepted for who he is. His devoted mother Veronica would go the ends of the earth for him to be happy and then there is Violetta; who chooses a path that she would rather not follow but who can see no other way forward.
With the story told from three perspectives, the way that these three worlds are brought together is written with compassion and sensitivity. I have no experience with autism but given the way that Sebastian’s character has been written and, with the information contained in the acknowledgements telling how Louise received guidance from the parents of an autistic child, I trust Louise to write an authentic character that I can believe in.
Sebastian is a lovely young man but one whose behaviour can sometimes be challenging to say the least. His lack of a filter can get him into trouble with those who don’t understand but it makes him who is he is. He is also intelligent, perceptive and understands more than he is given credit for.
Veronica is fiercely protective of Sebastian and a little jealous of anyone else who should come into his life. After his father died she has fought for Sebastian on her own, he is her life. However there are times when she can’t always see that he doesn’t want or need her to fight all his battles and this is where she makes some questionable decisions.
Violetta’s part in the story made me want to weep. What she endures to fulfil a promise is heartbreaking. I so wanted her to find her happy ever after that she deserved.
This is How We Are Human is an extraordinary and powerful story and my review can’t possibly do it justice. It is one that you absolutely must read for yourself. Louise Beech has written another stunning book.
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.