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Publisher's Summary

Ben Jewell has hit a breaking point. His 10-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.

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.

Perfect for fans of David Nicholls, The Shock of the Fall and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

©2016 Jem Lester (P)2016 Orion Publishing Group

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  • Melanie Preston Lewis
  • 01-13-17

Wonderfully uplifting

Any additional comments?

Shtum is a wonderfully uplifting account of one man's struggles with his autistic son, the local authority, his wife, his father and his own demons. Jem Lester has chronicled Ben's story in a moving and eloquent manner. My emotions were put through the wringer, and I veered haphazardly from sorrow to fury via despair with glimmers of hope thrown in. There were a number of occasions when I had to struggle with the lump in my throat. (People look at you weirdly if you're walking the dogs with tears streaming down your face). My initial frustration with Ben turned into hero worship without me even realising it. My love and connection to his father never wavered and though, at first, I was angered by Emma's narcissism, the reveal that she was in fact the most loving and generous of mothers came through loud and clear by the end. Mr Lester has captured our hearts with this, at times, shocking account of Ben's daily routine with his son. I was never in any doubt regarding the depth of his love for Jonah and I'm sure that after reading this book, Jonah will have an army of people rooting for him to find enjoyment and peace. It was only once I'd finished the book did I realise that I'd been holding my breath and crossing my fingers for the entire time. I'm thrilled and privileged to be able to highly recommend this remarkable book. An exquisite reminder of the joy of reading.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • MCA
  • 09-18-16

I will miss this family

I was totally immersed in this book which the reader brought to life so very well. It is very sad in places and funny in others. I've never reviewed a book before (and I have read and listened to lots). I just felt that this one deserved it on every level, performance, the story and the writing and the fact that I will remember it and will miss the characters very much.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • jacks247
  • 09-14-16

Brilliant

Forget the synopsis.. Know this will make you laugh and cry. I work with autistic adults and I love the guys I look after, I've been there 16 years and adore them... With all their funny stories and meltdowns. I'm also a mum and this tugged at my heart. Georg is the best character I've ever read. Loved this book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • MAGGS
  • 06-11-16

Shaun - great book, so much going on in the storyline

Shaun - great book, so much going on in the storyline.
There was alcoholism, servers autism, the war & marriage breakdown all wrapped up in this great story.
Great narration

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • stylo
  • 03-21-17

A book full of unlikeable characters!

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Anyone who enjoys a story packed full of self-pity. Anyone who likes reading about self-absorbed alcoholics or other such self-centred characters.

Would you ever listen to anything by Jem Lester again?

Probably not! I had trouble empathising with his characters. It is a mystery how two selfish people, Emma and Ben, ever chose to get married in the first place! There is one exception, Georg the Grandfather is a saint! Having said that, Georg's story at the end of the book felt superfluous. There was repetition within the story that proved plain boring.

What three words best describe David Thorpe’s voice?

Bland, average, boring.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment and sadness that some people really are as selfishly, self-absorbed and pathetic as Ben.

Any additional comments?

I would not recommend this book - it is not funny!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • LIsa H
  • 01-05-17

Loved loved loved

A must read. Beautifully written with a storyline that holds you right to the end. An thorough insight into what it must be like to have a child with special needs. Told from the fathers point of view. Really enjoyed it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 10-23-16

Brilliant

I absolutely loved this book. It made me belly laugh out loud and produced a few tears to!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • KEVIN FISHER
  • 10-14-16

Magically written.

As a father of an autistic child (not as severe as Jonah) I found the story both moving and hilarious.
Congratulations to Jem on representing real autism. No card counting or any other "super power".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tara
  • 09-29-16

Breathtakingly brilliant.

Funny, profound, insightful & delightful.
Exceptionally well read.
My favourite book for years. Jem Lester - thank you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rob
  • 09-05-16

Brilliant book. Funny and moving.

I loved listening to this book and only did so when I could let myself be fully immersed in the story. It completely took me in, emotionally, the characters and the simple funny moments of life it encapsulates. It's a very moving book of a familiar struggle but not written in a 'same old way'. Afterwards you realise why the auther has such an honest insight into caring for someone with autism.
Although there is sadness in the book. It is ultimately, funny, charming, fulfilling and uplifting.
Performed very well indeed.
I would highly recomend this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Raelene
  • 06-19-16

Reality bites

Hard to stop listening to it, even when incredibly sad. You will laugh out loud from shock rather than hilarity, but the characters draw you in so much you want to hear more.