Shtum by Jem Lester Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Shtum

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 Jon

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.
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    Maxine (Booklover Catlady)

    Oh wow. Speechless. Incredible book. Especially as a mother to an autistic son. Absolutely brilliant. Please just read this before you die.

    Some reviews are hard to do as you just can’t find enough words to be expressed coherently. I have a million jumbled things to say about this book and need to narrow it down to what is important to the potential reader. This is one of the few books I have read featuring an autistic character that is very true-to-life. Jem Lester really nailed the realism wit

    Some reviews are hard to do as you just can’t find enough words to be expressed coherently. I have a million jumbled things to say about this book and need to narrow it down to what is important to the potential reader. This is one of the few books I have read featuring an autistic character that is very true-to-life. Jem Lester really nailed the realism with this book. Any parent of an autistic child will both laugh and cry whilst reading this exceptional book.

    It’s heartfelt and heartbreaking at the same time. It made me smile and it made me sad. It made me frustrated and angry at times along with the characters. I felt like I was in their home, their lives, their journey.

    So what about the plot? One autistic’s boys journey with his family to fight for the right to be himself and get the best support possible. The battle with the local authority for the right schooling, a battle I know so well (as do many parents of ASD kiddies). Boy, this book was emotional. The characters are exceptional, so realistic you cringe at times at their mistakes and stuff-ups. Parenting is not perfect! The book does not try to smooth over the hard bits of parenting an autistic child and it includes all the wonderful moments, the love, the breakthroughs and it’s BALANCED. It’s a darn good story!

    It really went some places I did not expect it to go and it was a page-turning, cannot put down read. This is just one of those books that must be read in your lifetime, for a million and one reasons. Go on, open your heart and mind and grab Shtum to enjoy. Exceptional book that I am really not doing justice with my review. 5 whopping stars from this autism mama.

    Thanks so much for reading my review! To follow more reviews, be alerted to awesome online author events and HUGE book giveaways and more come on over to: https://www.facebook.com/BookloverCat…

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    Paromjit

    Dec 28, 2015

    rated it
    it was amazing

    Shtum is a story about family dynamics, relationships and the harrowing experience of raising a autistic child at the extreme end of the spectrum. It is guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and pull at your heartstrings. You will be outraged at a system that is more concerned about saving money, rather than meeting the needs of a vulnerable child. It explores how communication problems do not afflict sufferers of autism alone, but infects a marriage, and Ben’s relationship with his own father. The

    The story is told from the perspective of Ben, a guilt ridden thirtysomething father, moving in with his father, Georg, with his autistic son JJ (Jonah) so that the local authority agrees to sending him to a more appropriate, more expensive school. Emma, his wife, states a single father is in a better position to attain the desired outcome of more support and the best school for JJ at a tribunal. The dynamics of three generations of jewish males and their everyday lives is a joy to behold in all its loving complications. It soon transpires that the pretend separation is real and the insecurities that Ben feels about his marriage are rooted in reality. Ben drinks, he drinks a lot whilst trying to cope with JJ. His day job is something that barely impinges on him, he works at his father’s business hiring out catering equipment, but it is Valentine who does the work. He spends time at the pub where he is faking that he works in the construction industry! What he does have are incredible friends in Johnny, Amanda and their son, Tom, who was born at a similar time to JJ.

    There is a lot of work entailed in preparing for the tribunal, and the love Ben has for his son spurs him on. This includes visits from social workers, visits to schools, acquiring legal representation, reports from experts etc.. Ben has to face the collapse of his dad’s company due to his negligence. Emma tells him she is not in a position to contribute to costs and that he should look to his father for funds. This is awkward for Ben as he is not close to Georg. Ben and Georg’s relationship is poignant and beautifully portrayed. Georg adores his grandson and tells him stuff he has never told Ben. It takes time for Georg to come round to agreeing what is best for Jonah and in the interim he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Emma serves divorce papers to Ben. Georg is actually dying and rushed to a hospice whilst Ben is attending the tribunal amidst this emotional maelstrom. Nevertheless, Ben reads an account of life as Jonah which allows the panel an unprecedented insight into JJs life to assess his needs.

    At Georg’s funeral, the errant Emma explains how she reached the point of marital breakdown to Ben, her addiction to certain drugs just so that she could manage. Her capacity to handle JJ deteriorated and there was no communication with Ben. Ben is astounded, he had absolutely no idea. We are given an insight into the history of alcholism with Ben and its connection with his mother who abandoned him as a child. The tribunal results in JJ’s placement in the desired Oxfordshire school. Ben goes to Hungary to explore his dad’s heritage and the death of Jonatan, the autistic brother of his father he never knew about. He finds the burial site of Jonatan’s body and where he died in the final throes of Nazi rule. The story ends with Ben at the crossroads of moving to a better place in his life.

    I cannot put into words how much I loved this book. It has heart, warmth and a compelling narrative. It depicts a picture of a contemporary jewish family, more specifically the males, with all their flaws, foibles, idiosyncracies, love, despair and triumphs. The characters are extraordinary in their complexities and are so real that you believe in them. I adored the incomparable socialist Georg and JJ. Jem Lester has done a super job in his picture of JJ, we feel so empathetic towards him whilst at the same time understanding just what a toll it takes in meeting his needs and caring for him. Many parents of autistic children will sigh with relief upon reading this novel, seeing that others also face similar burdens, battles and joys. He infuses humour and intelligence throughout the story whilst having a keen understanding of the nature of complex human relationships over time. I have no doubt that Shtum will be a highly successfully debut novel for Jem Lester, it is just waiting to be turned into a superb movie with the right director. Many grateful thanks to Orion for a copy of the book via netgalley.

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    PattyMacDotComma

    5★
    I remember the Yiddish word “shtum” as meaning to keep quiet about something, as in to keep it secret, to yourself, not just to be silent. The U sounds like “put”, rather than like “mum”. **

    The author drops us smack in the middle of a family overwhelmed: a severely autistic boy of 10, Jonah, lives with Ben, his alcoholic (but not admitted to it yet) father, and Emma, his over-achieving lawyer mother. Ben seems to be the primary carer now.

    They deal daily with cleaning poo off the walls or facin

    The author drops us smack in the middle of a family overwhelmed: a severely autistic boy of 10, Jonah, lives with Ben, his alcoholic (but not admitted to it yet) father, and Emma, his over-achieving lawyer mother. Ben seems to be the primary carer now.

    They deal daily with cleaning poo off the walls or facing a kitchen that’s been ransacked, with cereal and bread strewn across a floor covered with burst packets of chips and jam if they aren’t quick enough to foresee his needs.

    We’re treated to a lot of those scenes, but that’s the point. This is not an occasional tantrum, this is the family’s daily life and Jonah’s regular behaviour. Ben does a pretty good job of having apples and chips and bread always handy, but sometimes Jonah beats him to it, like a puppy let off a leash – but he’s getting big, and he bites and kicks and it’s getting dangerous.

    This child is happy in a park, chasing leaves, jumping around water features with toddlers, looking at rainbows and sparkly things. He is an unfiltered, uninhibited bundle of raw energy with many demands and some affection. He is loved, and we think he loves back – in his way.

    Then it’s a long evening routine of happy bubble baths, medicine, fish tank watching, and lots of vodka for dad, in the hopes of sleeping forever (not going to happen). It is relentless.

    All of these people, every one of them, is keeping shtum about something. Ben seems to feel that somewhere in there, in Jonah’s mind, are thoughts and dreams. Ben just wishes his son could share these with him, although he’s never shared much with his own father.

    Granddad Georg is devoted to Jonah and has a remarkably calming effect. He tells his grandson all kinds of stories about his past, things that Ben has never heard. Jonah seems to like the sound of his voice, and as long as he has something to eat or twiddle, he stays placid. Jonah lets Granddad stroke his hair and be close, which he doesn’t always allow.

    Jonah goes to a school which sends home a plastic bag of “steaming” soiled clothes every day – that’ how much care he gets.

    Emma says, let’s separate and you take Jonah to live with your dad so the courts will look favourably on our case (broken family), and authorise Jonah to live at a wonderful special country residential centre / school for kids with autism. No more benevolent neglect by an under-resourced school, no more disruption for an autistic boy who needs continual, caring monitoring.

    We meet other family friends who’ve known Ben and Emma and Jonah since the beginning, and we also hear a bit about Georg and his boyhood friend Maurice, who share a history going back to Nazi Germany, about which they have kept shtum.

    At the end, we learn so much more than we could have expected or hoped for, and it is just wonderful! I absolutely love how we begin to understand some of the things people have kept to themselves and why.

    The “autistic” part of the book is certainly real, and if you see a bit of the author’s profile at the link below, you’ll see he probably knows whereof he speaks. But the late discoveries of the novel are something else again. Terrific!

    Thanks so much to NetGalley and Hachette Australia (and Jem Lester) for allowing me to read a copy of this for review.

    Highly recommended!

    http://www.petersfraserdunlop.com/cli…

    **”Shtum” (or “schtum”). I looked it up at the Oxford Dictionary online to check my memory, and if you click on the little sound/volume symbol, a nice man will say it for you. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/def…

    Just listened to this great podcast with the author (April 2, 2016)
    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/p…
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