Ben Jewell has hit breaking point.
His ten-year-old son, Jonah, has never spoken. So when Ben and Jonah are forced to move in with Ben's elderly father, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.
As Ben battles single fatherhood, a string of well-meaning social workers and his own demons, he learns some difficult home truths.
Jonah, blissful in his innocence, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.
I have just finished reading this remarkable debut by Jem Lester and I feel like I have been on a frustrating rollercoaster of emotions.
Shtum follows the Jewell family, Emma and Ben are parents to Jonah who is autistic and they have reached a point where they are shadows of themselves and can no longer cope. They are aware that it is time for Jonah to get more help but naturally they only want the best for him and High Grove Manor would be perfect for his needs unlike Maureen Mitchell School but they have a fight on their hands as the London Borough of Wynchgate feel that Maureen Mitchell is best for Jonah, but we all know it comes down to funding.
What a powerful read that brought out so many emotions in me along the way. I felt every ounce of frustration for Ben as we see through his eyes how obvious it is that High Grove was perfect for Jonah. I felt exhaustion just reading the routines and daily struggle that both Emma and Ben have had deal with with next to no help, when women have babies you often hear of the exhaustion and the poo nappies but this is only for a matter of years where as this has been 11 years of basically doing the baby routine only as poor Jonah has got older he has also got stronger which also has its problems. I was heartbroken at how Jonah’s condition had affected Emma and Ben’s relationship but at times I also felt disbelief at both of their actions. There was the odd witty parts to which came at just the right time in the storyline. So as you can see this book had such an emotional impact on me and I think this storyline will stay with me for a long time.
I found that this book opened up the world of living with Autism and the struggles families face trying to raise children who are Autistic and unfortunately the storyline is all too real in the fact there really isn’t enough help or funding out there to help so I hope this book helps to bring more awareness to Austism.
The author has a wonderful writing style that pulls you in to the storyline and gets you emotionally involved so it becomes impossible to put the book down. I cannot wait to read future books by this author as I am sure after reading this book it is going to be in the best sellers list, an author to watch out for.
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