This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech @OrendaBooks

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 and break your heart…

‘One of the best writers of her generation’ John Marrs, author of The One

‘A brilliant premise, executed beautifully … such a moving, tender and unexpected read’ Catherine Isaac, author of Messy, Wonderful Us

‘I guarantee you will not read anything like it this year … you will fall in love with this book’ Miranda Dickinson, author of Our Story

‘Incredibly moving, gripping, and full of heart … The novel everyone will be talking about this year’ Gill Paul, author of The Secret Wife

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 probably going to be once of the most difficult reviews I write this year as I’m no writer and I know that I will in no way do this book justice. This Is How We Are Human is a stunning book-heartbreaking with an honesty and validity that sweeps the characters along with the broom of life-and it’s the best book I have read this year. I have to admit to having been a beta reader for Louise Beech when the book was in its infancy and it blew me away then but the polish applied by Orenda books has taken it to another level…

One of the reasons I read an early copy is because of the work I do. I obviously can’t go into details but most people who read my blog know that I’m a Teaching Assistant for SEN children and have lots of experience of autism in primary school aged children. And one of the toughest parts of my job is letting go when they move onto the next stage of their education. I worry about how they will cope with the outside world-will they marry, have children and what sort of job will they do? And I know that’s not for me to worry about but it’s part of who I am and what makes me so good at my job (which is a very bold thing for me to say considering I suffer terribly from Imposter Syndrome in most areas of my life!). So I can honestly say that Louise has written an authentic portrayal of autism and the needs and worries of those diagnosed as being on the spectrum.

Sebastian, Veronica and Violetta are all beautifully drawn characters and I adored all of them for different reasons. Veronica just wants the best for her son and if that means finding him a professional to satisfy the very normal sexual needs of a young man his age, then that is what she will do. Violetta is a young woman who, like many others, is drawn into the “easy” money that prostitution promises although emotionally it ends up costing her far more than she is ever paid. And I defy anyone not to fall in love with Sebastian as he starts to find his own way in the world…

I had to read the last few chapters though my tears. Emotionally, Louise Beech gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME!! She is one of the best writers of her generation and her books just speak to me so profoundly that I don’t read them…I experience them with a welcoming intensity deep within me. It’s a difficult feeling to explain as Louise writes such different books with each one that she releases but I think that the title of this one explains what she does perfectly-she is able to define and channel what it is to be human within her fictional work. I have made no secret of the fact that I adore her books and am a huge fan but This Is How We Are Human is my favourite of her books so far. It’s just so beautifully written, perfectly crafted and made me cry…a lot! Due to Covid restrictions there hasn’t been an Orenda roadshow this year so Louise hasn’t been able to make me cry in person with her readings but once this is all behind us, I’m hoping that events will quickly get back to normal and I’m stocking up on tissues for when that day comes!

A must buy for fans of Louise Beech…and for everyone who has had their life touched and enhanced by someone on the autistic spectrum.

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. This Is How We Are Human is out now.

Link to her website –

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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