Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Review: Shtum by Jem Lester


Powerful, darkly funny and heart-breaking, Shtum is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation - a strategic decision to further Jonah's case in an upcoming tribunal - Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben's elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.

This is the second review that I find hard to write this week. I just don't think I have the right words. This has been a very eye opening book and the second powerful book I have to review. From the very start of the book we experience how severe Jonah's autism is. I don't know much about autism, just some very basic info that couldn't prepare me for Jonah's story at all.

Life with Jonah isn't easy for his parents, he doesn't talk, he is still wearing nappies and at times gets aggressive. To give him the best possible chance in life his parents want to send Jonah to a special school, one that would be perfect for him. Easier said then done, to prove that this is the right place for him and to get the funding, they have to prepare for a tribunal at which Jonah's future will be decided. To up his chance his mother Emma proposes to fake a separation which results in Jonah and his father Ben to move in with Georg, Bens father.

We get a very vivid and real picture of  what life is like with Jonah at home. From the struggles to the laughs. Jonah is a incredible character and made me laugh out loud a few times, even tho I maybe shouldnt. However my favourite character is Georg, he has his own amazing way to deal with Jonah and he is not shy at all when it comes to speaking the truth.

Ben is the main character really. Fighting for his son to get the life he deserves there is barely any time for anything else. However Ben isn't short of his own struggles. His business is suffering, he barely speaks to his father and on the brink of alcoholism he is having to juggle everything completely on his own.

This book has really opened my eyes, it was heart breaking, funny, emotional and sad. A very powerful read that will stay with you long after you have finished the book.

Its a book that would be perfect for a book club too, I wish I was in one right now. Its one of those stories that has many things you could debate about. I have gone through different emotions while reading it. Going from liking to disliking the parents and back again. Having different opinion on what the right thing for Jonah is, agreeing and disagreeing with his parents.

All in all this has been an incredible and unforgettable read. Stunningly written and gripping from the very first page.

Thank you to NetGalley for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

Shtum is out on 7th April!

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