When the mother of an autistic young man hires a call girl to make him happy, three lives collide in unexpected and moving ways … changing everything. A devastatingly beautiful, rich and thought-provoking novel that will warm your heart.
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.
Hi and welcome to my review of This Is How We Are Human! And a very happy e-publication day to Louise Beech!
Any Louise Beech novel is something to look forward to in my book, but for this one I’ve been on tenterhooks even more than I usually am. Autism is a topic close to my heart: I grew up with a girl on the spectrum, I witnessed the whole diagnosis thing from up close, I experienced how rewarding but also how difficult such a friendship can be. It’s what made me decide to do my master thesis on autism, in cooperation with the local autism society. As such, it was very important to me that Louise got this right. I never had any doubts that she would, she’s a brilliant author after all, AND I knew this story was inspired by real people, but I don’t think I was entirely ready for how much a story like this and told right would affect me.
Sebastian is twenty and has autism. It’s what makes him him, but some days he wishes it could be cured. I dare you to read This Is How We Are Human and not fall in love with Sebby!
His mum Veronica is something fierce! Like a lioness with her cub. Not all disability is visible, Veronica snaps at her neighbour and ain’t that the truth. We all have our own issues and our own worries and we are so quick to judge people on appearances alone. And Sebastian? Well he may look like a fit young man, and to all intents and purposes that’s what he is, but he’s also a very vulnerable young man. He is more than intelligent enough but he is so naive. With him, what you see is what you get and he doesn’t fully grasp that other people might not be wired in the same way.
Violetta is a student nurse by day, a high-end escort by night. Not a career she’d always dreamt of for sure, but her dad needs special care and so she needs money and this is just the fastest way of getting it.
I really don’t know which of these three characters broke my heart the worst. Sebastian with his quirks and his needs and his sometimes overwhelming loneliness. Veronica who loves her son so much it hurts and would be willing to do anything and everything to make him happy, but who also has a really hard time letting him go. Violetta who is such a lovely young woman and tries so hard to take care of her dad but is losing herself and all self-respect in the process.
There is literally nothing I can say to do this brilliant book justice. I simply don’t have the words to convey all the feelings that are still racing through me. This story, these people, had me all emotional almost from the get-go. I’ve come to expect lumps in my throat at the very least when I read a Louise Beech novel, but with this one my tear ducts worked overtime. And not only when things got sad, but also when they got so beautiful my heart couldn’t process without turning on the waterworks.
I don’t read much contemporary fiction, and when I do, I often end up feeling sort of meh about it, because I miss the action and suspense of my beloved thrillers. But This Is How We Are Human has it all, all the feels and all the suspense, written so vividly and so realistically, I feel like I could just bump into Sebastian in the street.
This Is How We Are Human gave me a huge book hangover. I loved it to bits and I can’t stop thinking about it. Highly recommended!
This Is How We Are Human is available directly from Orenda Books here.
Huge thanks to Orenda Books for the gorgeous proof and the tasty fried eggs! All opinions are still my own.