Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
Release Date: 29th December 2016
Publisher: Sphere
Genres: Fiction

In the tradition of Nick Hornby and David Nicholls comes a warm and tender novel in which a father and his autistic son connect over the game of Minecraft.

Alex loves his family, and yet he struggles to connect with his eight-year-old autistic son, Sam. The strain has pushed his marriage to the breaking point. So Alex moves in with his merrily irresponsible best friend on the world’s most uncomfortable blow-up bed.

As Alex navigates single life, long-buried family secrets, and part-time fatherhood, his son begins playing Minecraft. Sam’s imagination blossoms and the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. Together, they discover that sometimes life must fall apart before you can build a better one.

Inspired by the author’s own relationship with his autistic son, A Boy Made of Blocks is a tear-jerking, funny, and, most, of all true-to-life novel about the power of difference and one very special little boy.


Alex is father to 8-year-old Sam. His life and marriage are falling apart. He cannot cope with day to day living and simply being a father to Sam who is autistic. Alex has many issues that he himself needs to sort out, mainly stemming from the death of his brother when they were children. Alex is wracked with guilt, feeling responsible that the car accident that killed his brother George was his fault. He has carried that burden all his life and it has eaten into every relationship that is important in his life. 

Alex doesn’t fully understand Sam and has spent Sam’s life shying away from providing any real care for him, preferring for his wife to take on the caring responsibilities. Sam is often in a closed and isolated world and Alex simply doesn’t know how to communicate with him or enter his world in a way that makes Sam feel happy and safe. He is afraid of him in a sense and spends any time with him in a permanent state of apprehension waiting for the next meltdown. Alex worries what Sam’s future will hold and he’s not quite ready to face that.    His wife Jody has simply had enough and suggests they try a trial separation to which he begrudgingly agrees. He moves in with his best friend Dan and tries to sort out his life. The key difficulty finding some way to connect with Sam. He does this in the most unlikely way – through the video game Minecraft. In this virtual world Sam feels safe and the pair begin to rebuild their fractured relationship with Alex beginning to understand Sam and the way he sees the world a little better.

I found this book to be such a sad book initially. I could fully empathise with Alex and his desire to just tip toe around any issues with Sam in order to keep the peace, albeit a fragile peace but better than what might follow. However, at the core of the story is hope. Hope that you can change your future and you can rebuild relationships that seemed almost beyond repair. The book is beautifully paced with just the right amount of humour to balance the heartbreak and fear of an uncertain future.  The author manages to convey that sometimes people have their own way of viewing the world and that its not necessarily wrong simply because it doesn’t conform to the expected norm. Sometimes people just has to change their thinking and adapt to make those isolated by autism feel a part of the world.  

 I sobbed my way through the end chapters of this book and was emotional mess by the time I finished it. It had a profound effect on me. The author’s own experiences of having a son with autism clearly shine through in his writing. A highly recommended read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Boy-Made-Blocks-uplifting-novel/dp/0751563293/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1502717724&sr=1-1 https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Made-Blocks-Novel/dp/1250111595/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502718205&sr=8-1&keywords=a+boy+made+of+blocks 

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