Saturday 5 June 2021

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech @louisewriter BLOG TOUR @OrendaBooks #ThisIsHowWeAreHuman #JubilantJune


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 by Louise Beech is published in paperback by Orenda Books on 10 June 2021. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this Blog Tour 

I have read every book that Louise Beech has had published. I have loved them all, some more than others, but every single one of them is made up of the most beautiful prose, and the most magnificently created characters. 

She's an author who cannot be put into a box. Her stories slip into multiple genre, she weaves a magic with words that is utterly astounding. 

I read This Is How We Are Human in one weekend, hardly raising my eyes from the page during that time. I have a new favourite Louise Beech novel, and it's this one. It is exactly what I want in a book.

Sebastian James Murphy and his mother Veronica live in Hull. They are the world to each other. When the story opens Sebastian is aged twenty years, six months and two days. Sebastian really wants to have sex but no girl that he knows would consider having a relationship with him. Sebastian is autistic. Apart from his mother, his life revolves around his love of Billy Ocean, swimming, fish and a daily portion of fried eggs; cooked perfectly, just as he likes them, by Veronica. 

Veronica is devastated by Sebastian's longings. Whilst he is handsome, with beautiful eyes and a body that is toned from his swimming, as soon as he begins a conversation, woman retreat. Veronica is also scared. She's scared that Sebastian will do something terrible, despite her efforts to talk to him about consent. Veronica decides that the only way forward is for her to pay someone to have sex with her son. 

This is not a decision that she takes lightly. 

Violetta works nights as an escort. She's with a reputable agency, she's not a sex worker who picks up men from the streets. Violetta is not her real name. By day, she is someone else. She is someone with responsibilities and a strong sense of loyalty. Escort work is her only choice. 

Sebastian and Violetta's worlds collide, with Veronica playing an integral part in the blossoming relationship. Things do not work out how any of them imagined. 

This is a beautifully written story, told with sensitivity and with wit. There are people who will say that only #OwnVoice writers should tell a story such as this, and whilst I totally respect that movement, this author has made it very clear that she worked closely with a friend who has a son who is autistic when she created this novel. 

It is daring and brave. All too often, the issue of sex is swept under the carpet when we read fiction about people with a disability. It's almost as though it's a taboo issue, but honestly, this is how we are human ... we are all human, and Sebastian is most certainly human. 

This is not just a story about a twenty year old who would like sex. It is also an exploration of relationships; those within the family, and also how other relationships form, especially if someone is a little different. I had so much compassion for Veronica. She is the ultimate mother, putting her own needs aside to ensure that her beloved boy has everything he possibly can to live his life to the full. She has some difficult, quite tragic scenes within the story. Telling Sebastian that he can no longer attend his swimming lessons, because he is an adult now and it's not appropriate for him to be naked around children is heartbreaking to read. 

Violetta too has her own intimate story; one of hope, and sadness, tinged with a sense of shame and then with a feeling of not believing in herself when long held secrets are exposed. 

Wonderfully moving, emotional and very thought provoking. A book to savour and love. Highly recommended. 

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel 
How To Be Brave was a Guardian Reader’s Choice in 2015. 
The sequel, The Mountain in My Shoe, was shortlisted for the 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 2019 novel Call Me Star Girl won Best Magazine’s Book of the Year, and was followed by a ghost-story cum psychological thriller set in a theatre, I Am Dust. 

Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012. 

Follow Louise on Twitter @LouiseWriter and visit her website:

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