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Shtum
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Shtum – adjective – silent; non-communicative. Ben and Emma are the parents of a profoundly autistic boy, Jonah. The story shows a very human, hard-hitting and realistic side of a married relationship that may not have been that strong even in the beginning, deteriorate when faced with the daily unceasing challenges they face in caring for Jonah. There is denial, self-pity, self-medicating that goes on within the parents’ lives. In a misguided attempt to get better care for Jonah in a residential placement, the parents separate. Jonah and his father move in with the grandfather, Georg. The grandfather sees more than Ben gives him credit for and connects with Jonah more deeply. Seeing his father interact with Jonah, Ben learns that words aren’t the only way to communicate.

Shtum is a touching look inside one family contending with an issue with no easy answers. Jem Lester, the author, has personal experience with autism with his own child. This gives the novel a more believable viewpoint for those of us who have little knowledge of autism.

 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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