A huge thanks to Anne Cater for organising this tour and to Louise Beech and Orenda Books for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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
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.
“This is How we are Human. We learn from one another.”
Louise Beech does not write characters. She crafts real, beautiful, imperfect, sometimes broken and wonderful people in all their glory. And she does it like nobody else. I have fallen in love with all of Louise’s main protagonists so far, but Sebastian, Veronica and Isabelle/Violetta made me fall the hardest and fastest.
This book sums up life. Everything you need to know about being a human being is in here. It teaches compassion, no judgement, love in many forms, healing and being open to change and learning from others. It’s stunningly perfect!
Sebastian is an angel. He sees things without judgement or prejudice, and he navigates the world in a different way because he is autistic. Writing an autistic character is never easy and as a writer I think it must open you up to a lot of feedback. I think Louise has captured a lot of what the world doesn’t always see or understand abut autism in Sebastian. By giving him his own voice and using multi-first-person perspectives, he isn’t just a vehicle for telling a story. His journey to discover and find love is such a beautiful one, pure and 100% from his heart. I loved his deep thoughts and how he understood people so well.
Violetta/Isabelle is a complex woman and one that would be open to so much judgement in society. She’s amazing, brave and loyal and inspiring. She just doesn’t know it yet but there is someone out there to teach her these things about herself. Isabelle’s story broke my heart but also uplifted me in other ways.
Veronica is the most vulnerable character in my opinion. Her whole life has been lived around her beautiful boy Sebastian but now he’s pulling away, growing into a man and hurting. Veronica doesn’t know what to do for the best and has some difficult choices to make. I really felt for Veronica. She made mistakes but everything she chose was purely out of a mother’s love and protection for Sebastian. I have an autistic son and I worry about some of the same things as Veronica. It terrifies me and what I learned from Sebastian’s story is to wait, trust and talk when the time comes. It was so hard watching her son become less reliant on her and leaving her with nothing else to focus on.
All 3 people (refuse to call the characters) learn from each other in equal measure. They form strong bonds, even if they aren’t always tight and I don’t think they realise the impact they have on each other’s lives. How to Be Human explores a variety of relationships between 3 very different people. It looks at parental love, friendship love, unrequited love, physical and mental love, romantic love and also the things we do for those that we feel this love for.
Louise has, once again, broken my heart and pieced it back together however it’s never fully whole again. I fear there may not be much of it left over time.
This is a beautiful book made up of complex people who need each other more than they know.
Author Bio – Louise Beech
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.
Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.