Shtum Jem Lester

cover74364-medium Pub: Orion

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.

Jonah is a nappy wearing, bed-wetting ten year old who is also autistic and doesn’t speak. He is also charming, funny and hard work.

A pretend separation with his wife Emma seems to be the only answer for getting their son into a residential school, and also the help they so desperately need.

Ben moves in with his father, a man Ben finds difficult to get along with but one that Jonah seems to love.

The difficulties and challenging day to day struggles as well as the funny anecdotes is captured perfectly in Jem Lesters novel.

It is a heartwarming and heart-breaking tale and it completely immersed me for the day and this was a book I just could not put down. I didn’t know about the complexities of autism,and I must admit I was ‘of those people’ who thought that such children just needed a firm hand. However, I now can see and understand the daily struggles and delights that having such a child can bring to a family.

The love for Jonah that Ben has is unconditional and his fight for his child to have the best is emotive. I literally sobbed in places, this is a book that could move even the hardest reader.

I loved this book and  I feel blessed that I have been given an opportunity to read such a beautiful and poignant tale.



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