Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Book Review
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.
Louise Beech never fails to impress with her thought provoking, character driven and emotional writing. This Is How We Are Human is no exception and tells the story of Sebastian, his mother, Veronica and student nurse, Isabelle. Veronica is fiercely protective of Sebastian, who is autistic, and just wants him to be happy.
Sebastian needs routine, loves his fish, eggs cooked just the way he likes them and 1980s music. Now twenty years old his thoughts are centred around having sex. He’s lonely, desperately wanting a relationship, to be accepted and loved for who is.
Sebastian says exactly what he thinks, he doesn’t have any concept of the ‘normal’ social filters, which causes problems with people who don’t know/understand him and who have misconceptions and prejudices about people with autism.
‘Maybe he’s not emotionally ready to be having sex.’
‘How the hell do you know what he’s emotionally ready for? I’m his mother and I know exactly what he’s ready for.’
‘Perhaps if he was emotionally ready, he would have found somebody.’
Veronica is momentarily wordless. She imagines taking hold of Mel’s wooden beads and wrapping them tightly about her throat until she passes out and the patronising look on her face dies.
‘Have you any idea how to deal with human people, never mind autistic people?’ she asks softly. ‘Or is everything you know something you’ve read in a book?’
Veronica, feeling she has run out of choices to get help for Sebastian, takes an unprecedented step which brings three people together in ways they never expected in this very moving and compelling tale.
This Is How We Are Human is a thought provoking, perceptive and wonderfully written book. Sebastian especially, but in fact all the characters, are portrayed with sensitivity and compassion. It gives pause for thought—what would any of us have done in Veronica’s situation, or for that matter in Isabelle’s.
Alternate chapters come from the perspective of a particular character, with a heading personal to them, and in this way we connect with them, following each journey of self discovery with all its emotional upheavals. I was invested in the story and the characters from the start.
Louise Beech writes with empathy for her incredibly well defined, realistic characters and the complexities of the subject matter are handled with great care.
Louise’s debut novel, How to be Brave, was a Guardian Readers’ pick in 2015 and a top ten bestseller on Amazon. The Mountain in my Shoe longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016. The Sunday Mirror called Maria in the Moon ‘quirky, darkly comic, original and heartfelt’. It was also a Must Read in the Sunday Express and a Book of the Year at LoveReadingUK. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was described as ‘engrossing and captivating’ by the Daily Express. It also shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year and longlisted for the Polari Prize 2019. Call Me Star Girl hit number one on Kobo. It also longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize and won the Best magazine Big Book Award 2019. I Am Dust is out now and was a Top Six pick in Crime Monthly and a LoveReadingUK Monthly Pick. This Is How We Are Human will be out June 2021.