Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from This Is How We Are Human! In case you missed it the first time around, my review is here, but allow me to spare you the time and effort: This Is How We Are Human gave me a huge book hangover, I loved it to bits and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since, it is a must read!
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
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.
Ready? Okay, then we’re off to the pool!
VERONICA SHRUGS OFF HER FEELINGS
Sebastian comes into the hallway with his rainbow-coloured swimming bag over his shoulder and his goggles already on.
‘I can’t get out of the water without using the rail or the steps,’ he says.
‘Sorry?’ Veronica is still distracted.
‘I can’t do it without them.’
‘Why does that matter, darling?’ Veronica finds her car keys, her mind on the letter burning a hole in her pocket. She will read it while Sebastian is in the water. Yes, wait until he’s occupied and then open it.
‘There’s no rail or steps from a river or the sea,’ he explains.
‘But you’ll never be alone in any of those places, so don’t worry.’
‘But I have to know how,’ he insists, agitated. ‘I won’t get my fifth certificate if I can’t pull myself out of the pool. I failed last time and the one before and the one before. This is totally my nemesis, Mum.’
‘You can do it; I know you can.’ Veronica ushers him out of the door, glancing across the street at Annabelle’s house. ‘Get in the car, darling, or we’ll be late.’
‘Can’t be late, can’t be late,’ he says, climbing in.
They are not late; they never have been. Veronica always makes it her mission to be there – to be anywhere – at least ten minutes early. If they’re not, Sebastian gets agitated. He goes into the changing area and she goes into the café upstairs, where from behind glass she can watch the pool.
Mr Keyes, the swimming instructor, gave Sebastian a private changing area some years ago. The average age in the class is just ten, so it soon became inappropriate for him to undress with them all. Mr Keyes has been a joy. When Veronica explained that the lessons were more than just about learning to swim, that they were Sebastian’s world, the instructor said he could attend for as long as he wanted, and they would accommodate any needs he had as they occurred.
‘I love Sebastian,’ Mr Keyes once said. ‘So do the other kids. These classes wouldn’t be the same without him.’
Watching Sebastian line up at the edge of the pool with his classmates, almost twice the height of some of them, damp hair wild and curly, Veronica fingers the envelope in her pocket. She sips the watery coffee. Does she really want to know what’s inside? Would it be better to tear it up and never see? No. She takes it out. Retrieves the letter inside.
Neat words line the seahorse notepaper Sebastian was given by his great aunt Myrtle at Christmas. Inhaling to compose herself, Veronica reads it.
Your sister Siobhan told me you like me. I like you too. She said I could write to you and tell you about what I would like to do and she would give it to you. She showed me this rude video and it got me really excited because it was what we could do. I know that we both have to be over eighteen and I know that you have to say yes and Siobhan said you are over eighteen and she showed me a letter where you said yes and you even underlined it. It was typed not your own writing but I don’t mind. I want to kiss you first and then see you without your clothes on and then have sex. We can both shut our eyes because I saw them do that on Love Island though I would prefer to have mine open. I want to do it more than once. I really want to do it now very very much. My body is totally ready to do it right now so soon would be good. I can’t wait. Please write back to me and tell me where we can do it. My bed is big. We can do it there.
You really REALLY need to know everything that comes before and everything that comes after, trust me! Get your copy directly from Orenda Books here, and have yourself a very jubilant June!