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.
A new Louise Beech novel is always a reason to be excited about buying a book, because every story she tells comes straight from the heart.
Full of warmth and understanding, This Is How We are Human, shows once again why she is loved by so many readers. It’s a tender, honest and powerfully wrought tale of a mother’s love for her son, a daughter’s love of her father and a son’s search for a place in a world that has rejected him. In bringing their lives together, Louise Beech has crafted a story that will forever haunt my heart and mind.
Until a few years ago, to my knowledge I had never met a autistic child or adult, in the years since, I have more knowledge and understanding because many close to me have been diagnosed. It has been a difficult and often painful journey for them and few understand the way society rejects those that are ‘different’, but Louise Beech does and she gives them and their families a voice in this outstanding novel. The stories of Sebastian, his mother Veronica and Violetta are woven together into tale, of how love brings not just happiness and joy, it can bring also pain. That the decisions we make because we love, can have consequences that ripple across lives in never ending circles.
Sebastian is autistic, yet that is not who he is, not how he defines himself, yet others do. They don’t see the young man who loves music, eggs and books, his mother knows this and want’s to protect him from the cruelty of others and so she approaches Violetta, a high class escort, to show Sebastian that not only is he loved, but that he deserves to love. This has unexpected consequences for them all and we as readers are caught up in their lives in such a way, that it is utterly impossible not to love them and Louise Beech’s beautifully told story. They feel real, tangible and their yearning for the things many of us take for granted, acceptance, love, a place in the world, is why This Is How We Are Human is so special. The desperate need it awoke in me to see them accepted, not judged, for difference not be an excuse to hate, is why this is a story so compelling, you read on and on, your heart yearning for happiness, but knowing that the world is not as simple as that, and so you prepare yourself to have your heart broken.
There is no judgment here of their actions, just understanding! This Is How We Are Human is brutally honest in places, it shines a light on our treatment not just of autistic adults and children, but on people like Violetta is a high-class escort, on mothers like Veronica, whose love of their child, it not always perfect, but it comes from deep and never ending well of love. All three are doing their best to live and survive and dare to want more. The people around them, Veronica’s neighbor’s are cruel, judgmental and yet even they are layered and we are forced to step back and wonder why they judge others, why they tease, taunt and want to exclude those that don’t fit into the box society defines as acceptable. We are all Veronica in some ways, because I found myself wanting to wade into the battle she was fighting against society and the authorities that have abandoned her, Sebastian and Violetta. I know and care about someone who has faced Veronica’s pain and who is only now is seeing the light at the end of a dark tunnel. I promise you with my hand on my heart, that Louise Beech understands and delivers a story of such sweet longing for acceptance, that you will never forget it.
You can purchase this novel directly from the publisher Orenda Books.
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.
Louise Beech can be followed on Twitter.