Book Review: This is how we are human by Louise Beech.

This book has been creating a buzz on Twitter for several months now. It’s author Louise Beech is always generous in the way she shares her creative process and everything she and publisher Orenda Books were saying about this story interested and intrigued me.

As an SEND practitioner the premise of this book had me hooked. Books that portray characters with autism are few and far between, and it’s fair to say that some are more successful than others. So I was waiting with baited breath to see how Louise would rise to this particular and unique challenge. It’s fair to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Right at the heart of this book is Sebastian. Sebastian is 20 years old, lives with his Mum Veronica in Hull. He likes eggs, swimming and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic and like most young men of his age Sebastian is interested in sex.

His Mum Veronica loves her son, and is broken hearted that he is lonely, confused and frustrated. Desperate to find a way to help her son she begins to consider paying to give him the experiences he desperately wants.

Isabelle is lost. Working as an escort under the name of Violetta, she is struggling to pay her father’s medical bills and keep up with her nursing degree.

When the paths of all three characters cross some solutions are found but lives are changed forever. Decisions that are made with the best of intentions begin to take on a life of their own with far reaching and unforeseen consequences.

Within this story Louise Beech tackles a complex and little discussed issue head on. She acknowledges and explores what society to often chooses to ignore; that young people and adults who are neurodivergent still want and need to engage in healthy sexual relationships. They still have thoughts, feelings, wants and desires just like the rest of this crazy world. And the challenges they face around understanding social constraints and boundaries, including issues of consent, need thought, discussion and appropriate support. Not to be ignored or worse condemned.

With skill and compassion Louise has created a cast of three dimensional, sympathetic and beautifully flawed human beings. No one is perfect but everyone is striving to stay one step ahead of the game. Autism might be at the centre of this novel but it is human nature that gives this story it’s beating heart.

This novel will surprise you in every way.

Rachel x

January 2021- My Most Anticipated Books… So Far…

There are many times when I sit down to write a blog I find imposter syndrome hovering just behind me. And right now it’s dancing a merry little jig!! Because for the first time ever I am attempting a ‘Most Anticipated’ post , and I feel woefully unqualified!!

And I am also a little overwhelmed, simply because every time I log on to social media, read a review or connect with a publisher there are hundreds more treasures to be found.

So this post comes with a huge disclaimer or two. It is very much a snap shot in time; every book listed here genuinely excites me but I know I am missing others. Forgive me and please if you think there is something not on my radar that should be, let me know. Book doors are always open!

I was going to do attempt a 2021 Most Anticipated Post but to be honest that felt just too overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of good books heading our way this year and I wanted to give my choices a little space to breathe. So in the spirit of eating the elephant one bite at a time and saving my own sanity in the bargain, I am beginning, quite simply with January!

Enough rambling! Let’s begin!

This month might be a bit bleak on many fronts but there are so many great books making their way into the world. And I have already read an reviewed a couple.

The Push by Ashley Audrain is a complex psychological portrait of motherhood and everything that goes with it!! Released 5th January by Michael J Books

If historical fiction is your thing than Frances Quinn’s The Smallest Man is perfect reading. My review is here but Nat Davy will linger long in your mind. Released Simon and Schuster on 7th January 2021.

Other books I have already devoured and have review pending on include the moving and quite brilliant Captain Jesus by Colette Snowdon (Bluemoose 28th January) and the absolutely mind blowing Mrs Death Misses Death By Salena Godden (28th January, Canongate) . Both these books are going to be huge. Both deal with loss and grief, both brilliant and but oh so, different! My reviews will be up soon.

You can’t talk about January releases with mentioning the fact that Laura Purcell is about to release a new novel, The Shape of Darkness (21st January, Raven Books). If gothic historical fiction with more than a touch of darkness is your thing, then hold on to your hats. And this is my first blog tour of the year and I can’t wait!!!

Old Bones by Helen Kiston is released on 18th January by Louise Walters and takes us back to the fictional village of Morevale. When a body is found in a local quarry the quiet lives of three local women are disrupted and carefully constructed lives are threatened. I haven’t been let down by any of the books Louise has published and this one is literally at the top of my TBR pile.

Shiver by Allie Reynolds (21st January, Headline); well what can I say?? Aside from having a complete January weather vibe going on immediately, the premise of a reunion that isn’t and friends who no one can trust is just the kind of distraction we all need this month! If thrillers are your thing then Shiver is not to be missed.

Next up is wholly intriguing debut novel from Cherie Jones, How the One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House ( 21st January, Tinder Press). Set in Barbados, we are settling in for a tale of caution, poverty and the story of women. It is already being hailed by some of out greatest women novelists and the Twitter reaction has been spectacular.

If you are looking for nonfiction this month then How to be a refugee by Simon May (21st January, Picador) is definitely worth a look . Focused on the author’s family, and Jewish survival, this is the story of some thing other than the concentration camps. This is the story of denial. And everything that brings with it.

And if poetry is your thing?? Well who doesn’t want to read Brian Bilstons Alexa, What is there to know about love? (21st January, Picador) This is what we need to get us through the month ahead!!

So there you have it, for what it is worth, my own take on what is being published this brand new month, in a brand new year.

Happy new year and happy new reading!

Rachel x