Saturday 9 April 2016

Shtum - Jem Lester

Shtum is a story about Ben and Ella Jewell and their ten year old son Jonah who has a severe form of autism.
It's clear from the very beginning that both parents are finding it hard dealing with Jonah and his behavioural problems as they discuss the forthcoming legal battle with their local authority to get Jonah into a residential school that will be able to give him the help and support he so desperately needs.

When they find out that the chances of their local authority paying for Jonah are slim, Emma suggests that  they fake a separation to help his cause, as a single parent will be looked upon more favourably. Ben reluctantly goes along with this and moves in with his father Georg who he hasn't spoken to for months.

Ben starts to buckle under the pressure of taking care of Jonah, a failing business, looking at alternative schools for Jonah and his strained relationship with his father so he relies more and more on alcohol.

Jem Lester has written a truly wonderful, heartwarming but also heartbreaking book which will make you cry at times but will also have you laughing out loud. The main theme running through the book relates to communication, how do you communicate with someone who is unable to talk, how do you communicate with someone who isn't willing to talk  and how do you communicate with someone who isn't there?

I can't express just how much I enjoyed reading this book and I hope that it's a huge success.

With kind thanks to publishers Orion and NetGalley for the review copy.

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