Shtum by Jem Lester

What an amazing book this turned out to be! I must confess that I wasn’t keen after a chapter or two, but due to my personal interest in the subject matter I decided to persevere – and I am so glad I did! What a poignant, loving, funny, sad and REAL insight into autism this book is. Written as fiction, this is based on the very real life of Jem Lester, author, and his autistic son, and the reader gets it – right between the eyes! Warts and all, this is the raw, exposed life of an ‘autism parent'; the difficulties, the joys, the highlights and the stress, the battles with authorities who think they know what’s best, the damage to personal relationships and the joy of a connection, however fleeting, with an autistic child. The REAL bit is that Ben, the dad, has to deal with all this among all the other stuff that life throws at him, and indeed at all of us; real life, such as divorce, terminal illness, the death of a parent…and so on.
There is one particularly moving scene towards the end of the story in which Ben attends the tribunal which is to decide on the future secondary schooling for his son; Ben stands up and delivers a speech on life as he believes Jonah sees it through his own eyes. 
Loved it!

5

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