Shtum by Jem Lester



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.






Following the life of Ben Jewell, Emma Jewell and their son Jonah Jewell.

This story tackles alcoholism, prescription drugs and the stigma around autism. I highly recommend this if your looking for a non glamoured up account of having a family member with Autism.

Ben and Emma are raising a 10 year old boy Jonah who has sever autism. I was a bit cautious going into this as I was hoping for a true account of what it is like raising a child with Autism and I shouldn’t of been as Jem Lester did an amazing job and there were so many scenes and description that are absolutely spot on that he must have some personal experience with an Autistic relative.

Shtum is more then a story about Autism, it is a story of love, tough decisions, the importance of family and ultimately one with a realistic ending.

I didn’t like Emma at the start, as a sister of a child of Autism I couldn’t help comparing Emma and Ben to my own parents and my Mum would never do what Emma did BUT at the end of the book when we dive into the reasons behind it, you really start to understand everyone copes with things differently and I couldn’t dislike her any more as she had done the best she could.

The writing was just beautiful, the parallels the descriptions and most of all how all actions are communication and you don’t need words to speak and connect with others.

Favorite quotes:

“I would find alternative motives for their words. But, just by looking me straight in the eyes, or inviting some physical contact, in a moment Jonah informs me of his true feeling without words and I believe him. Words become meaningless if you don’t tell your truth and they become weapons if you tell someone else theirs. ”

“Words are just shapes, one squiggle after another. And you think people are so clever to use them this way and that way; stitch them together and shoot them like bullets and watch them wound or caress, hurt or disgust?”

4 out of 5 stars****

All up I give this a 4. I was going to give this a 3.5 as the start was quite slow for me but the ending really picked up and made me enjoy the story so much more.

Thank you NetGalley and Hachette Australia for allowing me to read this book in exchange for a honest review.


Also for my beautiful brother whether you speak a word to me or not I know you love me and our bond could never be stronger, I wouldn’t want you any other way.


You can pick up a copy of Shtum from Amazon here.


Thanks for reading everybody! I hope you have an amazing week!

3 thoughts on “Shtum by Jem Lester

  1. Sounds like a wonderful book and quite insightful. There isn’t much awareness about Autism in my country, its always given different names I guess so its not a good situation for autistic people. Although the autism society is trying to do something to about creating awareness.

    Your brother is so cute and adorable. You two seem quite close and happy together. Love the pic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Yes I really appreciated the Authors honesty in telling it how it is and not sugar coating the facts.
      Autism Awareness is lacking ingeneral the amount of people I meet that have no or misinformed knowledge amazes me BUT it isn’t their fault, it’s just a topic that needs to be spoken about more and less of a sensitive topic that is to be tip toes around 🙂


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