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.
Don’t mind me I’m only still mopping up my bleeding heart! Louise Beech has a bit of a reputation of making tissues a necessary evil when reading her books and she certainly pulled at my heartstrings with This Is How We Are Human. It’s obvious this is a novel written with heart which effortlessly speared mine!
I ended up loving The Lion Tamer Who Lost and I Am Dust, and this is now my third book by Louise Beech. I knew it was going to be amazing and touching before I even started it and that I might as well get myself a paper copy of this novel. I only buy those (or any book really) from authors I’m absolutely sure will deliver in the end, and I can assure you that she delivered everything I hoped for! So this face is now looking pretty smug about the fact that she owns a physical novel; it’s one I know I want read it again.
This Is How We Are Human, blimey what a perfect title, you can feel the premise of this novel by that title alone. Between its pages lies an amazing story of love and friendship without it being a textbook romance novel. This Is How We Are Human is at times gentle but at other times cutting deep and it took me by surprise how deeply I cared for all three main characters and how touched I was by the whole story.
From the start I was on the fence about Veronica’s plan though to secretly pay someone to sleep with her son Sebastian who has autism and is becoming a little obsessed with sex. There’s an unspoken rule not to talk about such issues normally but Louise Beech is brave and there are no taboos for her. Anyway Sebastian thinks nobody will ever want to sleep with him and it breaks his mother’s heart, hence her last resort resolution. I immediately felt it was morally wrong, the secrecy, the make belief, and I worried so much how it was going to end. A tiny part of me didn’t like her for what she was doing, however much with good intentions. She wanted Sebastian to get the feeling that someone could be interested in him but what if he became too attached to HoneyBee? What if he didn’t want it to ever end? Didn’t she think about the possible consequences? The bubble someone with autism lives in is already small and they don’t let just anybody in so my heart already broke just thinking about what could happen. Sebastian is so endearing, he’s a man and he can give some very poignant comments but at other times he’s disarmingly childlike too and it was stronger than myself but I felt a need to protect him, knowing from the very first pages of this novel that the world will fail him.
It mustn’t have been easy to know how to write about sex, let alone from the viewpoints from someone who hasn’t experienced it and from an escort’s point of view but Louise Beech gave the reader an idea of what was happening without making it too awkward or spinning it out. I usually avoid books that have a lot of sex in them but this book does not include those cursed hot and graphic sex scenes so I was able to enjoy it all. I didn’t even want anything else but to have Sebastian’s dream come true.
If there’s anything I take away from this story it is how we are all flawed, and that we are as prejudiced as the characters even if we say we’re not. I made up assumptions while reading this novel and I was wrong to have them. This novel shoved my nose in it and I can’t do anything other than admit this error, there’s still work to be done. I’m sure I won’t be the only one.
This Is How We Are Human is a beautiful and moving story, an eye-opener of a novel with a unique twist.
I bought a paperback copy of this book from the publisher OrendaBooks via their online webshop (only 6.99 £ for the paperback right now!). This is my honest opinion.