I’m delighted to be a part of Orenda Books blog tour for ‘this is how we are human’ by Louise Beech – thank you Anne, as always, for the invite. I’d previously read Beech’s ‘I am Dust’ and loved it, so couldn’t wait to read this new release. Do keep reading for the blurb and some bookish chat 🙂
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.
‘THIS IS HOW WE ARE HUMAN’ caught my eye due to the subject matter of autism in early adulthood. We often hear about autism in much younger people, where there is a lot of support in place, however once a young person hits a certain age then this support can become much less visible, and the demands on the families much more complex. This book highlights the ongoing needs of a young autistic man called Sebastian, who loves ‘fried eggs’ and ‘swimming’ but is lonely. He’s also a young man who desperately wants to have sex.
At the heart of this book is struggle. The struggle to connect; the struggle to understand and the struggle to heal. Beech tells her story through three narrative perspectives, these fuse together with an emotive clarity as we follow the journeys of Sebastian, his mother Veronica and Isabelle AKA Violetta. The women’s stories for me added some really important depth to this story; I was fully immersed from the onset in the lives of this entwined trio.
Beech doesn’t hold back, and it’s right that the story is told openly, honestly and often brutally. This is difficult material but it’s successful because the characters are crafted with such care and openness you simply cannot fail to be ensnared by their stories. In particular, the voice of Sebastian dominants the novel and this turns the book into something special. Sebastian’s voice represents so many people with autism and reading this book provides a glimpse through his eyes: be prepared to laugh and cry as Beech juxtaposes beautifully so many aspects of the autistic world. This is a human story, with all its foibles. There’s devastation, adoration, deep love, brutal realities and harsh truths.
Insightful, thought-provoking and beautifully empathic writing from Louise Beech.
PS: Louise – this would make a great stage play!!!