I usually read non-fiction books but this book as suggested to me by my friend and she said I will love it. I took the book and first went online to find the meaning of the title, ‘Shtum’. It is a Yiddish word, which means keep secret or hide something. The title developed my interest to read the book further.
There are 3 main characters of this story – Grandfather (George) , Father (Ben) and Child (Jonah). There is another character in this story who is Emma, Ben’s wife. The story starts with a letter, which kind of sets a background. Jonah is an autistic child. Ben and Emma want him to send to the best school for his development. Emma and Ben separates so that they can have a strong case of single parenthood and can get the best school for Jonah.Ben decides to stay with his father George.Ben and George are not on talking terms and Jonah cannot talk.
The story is written it in such a way that you can picture all the scenes in front of you. Jem Lester has developed characters very well. As a reader your liking changes towards characters as the story goes ahead. For me George is the hero of this story and didn’t like the character of Emma. As the story develops these characters becomes a part of your circle. You comment on their behavior, shout on them or pity them.
This book also underlines another issue between characters. There is communication gap between George, Ben and Emma. Jonah cannot speak due his health conditions. When you read it looks as the writer has experienced these situations, which is true to an extent. Jem Lester has a son who is autistic and he is taking care of his child.
This book also shows an emotional tussle between different characters. There is little bit of emotional bargain between Ben and Geroge over Jonah’s going to resident school. Ben was already going through a lot while choosing a resident school for Jonah. George always keep finding faults with all schools. When you will reach to the end of the book you will understand why George is able to understand Jonah so well. Various letters coming from different governmental organisations keep the story going. They sort of give you an idea about what is coming your way. There are some other characters who play an important role in development of the story.
This is not just another book on the subject of autism but this is some where a personal story with a touch of fiction. I appreciate that it is book of fiction and not a memoir. It would have been emotionally taxing to read the memoir. Highly recommended to readers who like to read different subjects.