Review: Shtum by Jem Lester

Hello, everyone. I was meaning to upload this review a couple days ago but then my internet went down. All is sorted. I hope you like it. I just want to say that I don’t know a lot about autism so my views and opinions in this review come from my impressions of this book, its context and my extremely limited knowledge. I apologise if my information and facts are incorrect. If any of you have autism or know people who do I would be interested in learning more about ASD.


  • PUBLISHER: Orion Books
  • PUBLISHING DATE: January 26th 2017
  • GENRE: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
  • FORMAT: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781409162988
  • RATING: 5/5


Ten-year-old Jonah lives in a world of his own.

He likes colours and feathers and the feel of fresh air on his skin.

He dislikes loud noises and any change to his daily routine.

Jonah has never spoken, yet somehow he communicates better than all of the adults in his life.


Autism to me is a subject that not many people are comfortable discussing. It is a subject that people tend to ignore and state “it’ll never happen to my child”. Then the inevitable happens and they have a child who is profoundly like Jonah and the reality of what Autism is; a disorder that very well means a child who will never grow up. A child whose live like Jonah’s revolves around colours and feathers, not speaking a single word. Most people when they think on Autism they envision mathematical geniuses, musical prodigies and Nobel prize winners not someone who is wholly dependent on you for everything.

Children who suffer from such complex and profound autism like the beautiful character of Jonah Jewell I find are grossly overlooked by the general population. I’ve never had a conversation with someone about autistic children. It’s usually about mummy and baby classes, first steps, first words and how their little angel can count to five. Jonah and other children like him may grow, walk and be but they will never count to five.

The brutal honesty of this book and the reality of coping with a profoundly autistic child has grossly changed how I think about Autism in children. I felt such a great connection to Jonah and was constantly rooting for him through all the ups and downs. Shtum is a book that made me want to climb inside its pages and demand that Jonah goes to Highgrove Manor. Screw the tribunals and other choices. Jonah deserves to go to a school that will benefit him, not some second-rate backwater special school who see him as another number, a statistic not a beautiful child who deserves choices like any other child in our society.

Shtum is such an emotionally charged book and deals not only with autism but other issues that plague us on a daily basis; money issues, failing marriages and overbearing parents. A massive 10/10 for the amazing writer Jem Lester and all he has made me feel and understand. I cannot wait for his next book and I will definitely be scouring the shelves for its release.

Go read this book it is absolutely stunning.

Amazon                        Waterstones                        Book Depository                   WorldCat (Library)

N.B. WorldCat is an online library. It’s free to sign up. You can then use your location to find a library holding the book you’re interested in. I love it for those days when my pennies won’t quite stretch for a book purchase. They even have a phone app compatible with iPhone and Android.


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