BOOK REVIEW: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

Meet thirty something Dad, Alex.
He loves his wife Jody but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son, Sam, but doesn't understand him. Something has to change.
Meet eight-year-old Sam.
Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him, the world is a puzzle he can't solve on his own.
When Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other...

Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 387

This book is getting so much attention and I feel it is rightly deserved as A Boy Made of Blocks is brilliant.
At the beginning of the book Alex has just left the marital home to stay with his friend Dan. Things have been tense between him and his wife Jody for a long time but it has finally reached breaking point.The main cause of tension is their eight-year-old son, Sam who is autistic. Alex struggles to cope with Sam's behaviour and it has got to the point where Jody can't cope with the both of them.
Alex is suddenly on the periphery of their family life and he has no idea how to get back in. But Sam offers him a life-line when he starts playing the computer game Minecraft. Suddenly Alex has an activity he can do with his son that doesn't carry the same problems and pitfalls as others he has tried. As they play they slowly start to reconnect and Alex begins to see his son for what he is, an eight-year-old boy rather than  viewing him as a problem to be solved.
I have family and close friends who have children on the autistic spectrum so I do have some limited experience of it. The author is writing from first hand experience of raising an autistic child and the situations and tensions he describes rang true with what those around me deal with on a daily basis.
This book is not just about autism and it's many challenges but rather about being a parent. Keith Stuart lays bare the ways in which having children changes us all. He shows how the feeling of responsibility can be overwhelming Alex and Jody's relationship is being damaged by this person they created together; Sam has altered both of their identities and focus. They story shows them both having to come to terms with Sam's condition on their own before they can even begin to think abour working together again.
I was so impressed by the characters the author presents. They are believable and honest, vulnerable and hard to like at times. Alex is almost still behaving like a child, he needs to face up to a huge and tragic event from his childhood in order to be able to cope in the present. Everyone around him knows this but he has to come to the realisation himself and seek help.
There were so many poignant moments in this book and some of the interactions between characters were breathtaking. Keith Stuart expertly shows his character's emotions and inner turmoil through the language he uses. His ability to explore such an emotive and sensitive subject is testament to his talent as an author.
I urge you to read this book, I can see now why so many people are talking about it.

1 comment:

Nadia A said...

Wow. This sounds like such an important and powerful read. So glad you posted about it!

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