Published: June 10th, 2021
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this truly remarkable and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted eBook ARC.
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 and break 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.
“This is how we are human. We learn from one another.”
This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel from the incomparable Louise Beech. I need to begin this review by saying that nothing I write will do justice to this work of art. This is a story about the nuances and complexities of being human. A story full of heart, warmth and wisdom that is beautifully crafted and achingly real. It is unflinchingly honest, not shying away from the awkward, difficult or embarrassing topics and questions, instead putting them at the heart of the story and exploring them in detail. I found myself stopping frequently to discuss things with my partner, read him excerpts or laugh hysterically. The author has crafted something magnificent and special that has gone right to my soul and will stay there forever.
For a story like this you need great characters. And these are ones I will not forget. Sebastian, Veronica and Isabelle are compelling, multilayered, richly drawn and real . They each narrate their own chapters, offering three unique perspectives and getting to the heart of their stories while also allowing the reader to follow on their journeys of self-discovery. You can imagine them being you, your family or your friends. And that is what pulls you in, makes you connect to them, feel with them and fully invest in their story. And while I loved them all, Sebastian was truly the star.
“Everyone thinks autistic people can’t understand expressions, but we have to look at the strangest ones anyone can make and, and then work out what they mean. That is called irony, you know.
It is impossible not to fall in love with Sebastian. He is just the most wonderful young man; so wise and full of kindness, honesty and love. He is hilarious but also made my heart break. But what I loved most about him was that while autism is obviously part of him, it isn’t who he is. He is a nuanced character who is as individual as anyone else. He isn’t a bunch of traits or symptoms, but a human being with his own thoughts, feelings and dreams.
I am the mother of a son with autism. He is now sixteen and beginning to face similar challenges to those Sebastian faces in the book, though my son doesn’t struggle as much with social interaction and cues as Sebastian does. I am often frustrated by the clichés we see in stories featuring autism so I was a little apprehensive about how it would be represented, but I trust both Louise and Orenda, so I had faith it would be well written. And what is vividly clear from the start is not just the depth of research and commitment to authenticity Louise has taken to represent people with autism and the things they and their families go through, but also the compassion, empathy and sensitivity with which it is written. This reads like she’s lived it, though I know from her interviews she hasn’t. At the end of the book there is a note from the author about her research and it is a must read. She truly went above and beyond in her commitment to accurately represent autism. Louise, thank you.
“The small print tells us all the things we don’t really want to know, the things we should know.”
I was already a fan of her work after reading the fantastic I Am Dust last year. I loved it’s haunting gothic vibes and her exceptional storytelling. I knew from other people and interviews that Louise doesn’t really have a genre, she creates them; simply writing from her heart and brilliant imagination to give the reader something different each time. So I was excited to read another of her books, though I had a feeling this would be emotional (spoiler: I wasn’t wrong). But she also makes it side-splittingly funny, which stops the book from feeling heavy or overwhelming. And that ending; sheer perfection *chef’s kiss*.
This Is How We Are Human is a masterpiece. Enthralling, thought-provoking, powerful and heart-rending, I could have read this book forever. I loved the characters and story so much that I felt bereft when I had to leave them behind. I can always count on Orenda to publish quality fiction and this story is yet another example of why I will always recommend their books.
Louise Beech has given a voice to a story that needed to be told and characters who needed to be heard. I believe this book will help create more awareness, compassion and understanding of autism and help people with the condition to be seen for who they are, not the condition they were born with. Thank you Louise for writing it. And thank you Karen for publishing it.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, 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.
BUY THE BOOK:
Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx