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 ignorance, becomes the prism through which all the complicated strands of personal identity, family history and misunderstanding are finally untangled.
What we say: Review by Elizabeth Wright
I stumbled upon this book on Twitter and the blurb alone had me convinced that Shtum would be a permanent addition to my bookshelf of favourites. After receiving a beautiful hardback edition (the cover art truly is perfect), I jumped right in and all of my expectations were surpassed. I had tears in my eyes from beginning to end and sat gripping the cover in awe once finished.
Jem Lester’s writing style is at once realistic and entrancing. You are right there with him, feeling Ben’s simultaneous love and frustration for his family, seeing his internal struggle. The honesty will break your heart and humble you, yet somehow it leaves you feeling stronger. I could not recommend this book enough.