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, and 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, and intertwine in unexpected ways, everything changes. For everyone.
Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, This Is How We Are Human is a powerful, moving and thoughtful 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 and to survive.
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 2019 novel Call Me Star Girl won Best magazine Book of the Year, and was followed by I Am Dust.
This is the best book I’ve read this year. And I’ve been waiting for it with baited breath, hoping and knowing, simultaneously that it would be exactly what people need to read. It is.
Whatever else I’ve read before, I’m not dismissing that they were great books, but Louise Beech broke my heart. Not once, not twice but into a thousand tiny pieces. Can you give ten stars? No! I would if I could.
This is how we are human hits the nail on the head in a very straightforward and honest way. I have worked with people on the ASD spectrum in the past, and they are the kindest most honest people I’ve ever come across. That isn’t a shortcoming, it’s magical and refreshing. The prejudice faced in the book is real for them every single day and they do know, even if they say nothing.
I read this book in a single sitting, with tears pouring down my face. Nodding in recognition at not only Sebastians struggles, but those of his Mum Veronica and Violetta. I felt for every character in a different way and I really can’t say how much I loved this book.
What I can say however, is that it’s now my favourite Louise Beech book, it’s one of my favourite books so far, and if you have a book that really can’t be missed this year, it’s this one! Also, if you don’t know anyone on the ASD spectrum, but think you know what ‘they’ are like, how ‘they’ think, read this! You will find that ‘they’ are really just ‘you’ and ‘I’ in a different skin, with a different skin, but stigmatised by ‘those’ who don’t take the time.
Thanks for the advanced reading copy of this book to Anne Cater, Orenda Books and Louise Beech for this wonderful book.