BOOK REVIEW: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

a-boy-made-of-blocksA BOY MADE OF BLOCKS
By Keith Stuart
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 1st September 2016
Format: Ebook (400 pages)

Discover a unique, funny and moving debut that will make you laugh, cry and smile.

Meet thirtysomething 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. And he needs to start with himself.

Meet eight-year-old Sam
Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own.

But when Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other . . .

Can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?

Inspired by the author’s experiences with his own son, A Boy Made of Blocks is an astonishingly authentic story of love, family and autism. (Goodreads)


A Boy Made of Blocks had been sitting on my kindle for a little while. I had heard a lot of good things about it, but I kept forgetting about it. It was by chance that I selected it as it was the first book that had been downloaded to my kindle fire and I needed something to read on my commute and during my lunch break. This was proven to be a fortunate piece of luck, for I found myself really loving this book.

This is a book where the author has taken a subject that I personally haven’t read of in any books I have read. The book opens with Alex at a part of his life where he is finding it difficult not just at home but also at work. The relationship he has with his family has broken down due to point where he is moving out. This is part down to the fact that it appears he is working a lot of hours, but it also becomes apparent that he is using work as a distraction from dealing or coping with Sam and his autism.

Just when he thinks that his life couldn’t get any worse, he ends up losing his job. Alex is at his low and while it may seem that Alex has brought a lot of his plights on himself, as the book progresses you begin to find out that something happened when he was younger which has had a profound affect on Alex and the way in which he interacts with Sam.

It is only when Alex’s hand is forced and he ends up looking after Sam while Jody, Alex’s wife and Sam’s mum, goes back to work. From here we see the building of a relationship between Alex and Sam, all down to the game Minecraft.
It was a really nice change to read a book that explores the difficulties that parents face when raising a child, especially with a child that has extra needs to be taken into account. You not only felt for Sam who is trying to navigate through a world that he finds difficult to navigate through, but also for Alex and Jody. The simplest of tasks can and will throw up new obstacles that they have to try to solve. Up to the opening of the book, you can get the sense that Jody has been navigating Sams (and I hate to use this word, but can’t think of any other word to describe it, so I apologise) condition on her own.

In a way, this “break” is a way for Alex and Jody to find themselves and to try to work out who they are and where they are going to go from here. By the end of the book, Jody and Alex are on the path to fully reconciling but they still have a little while to go.

While it was interesting to see the bond between father and son begin to form and strengthen throughout the book, I also became deeply invested in Sam’s journey. Through Minecraft his confidence grows and he is able to do things he would have been difficult before. This, at first, is with the support of his father, but he begins to form friendships and eventually enters this Minecraft competition. In a way, I was standing on the side-lines in the hall, rooting Sam on.

This is a really warm and thoughtful book which does shine a light on the complexities of family relationships. Yes, Sam does have autism, but some of the challenges Alex and Jody face are universal and it is just that this an extra layer for them to work through.

A Boy Made of Blocks is a book I think that everyone should read as it is such a heartfelt and wonderful read. The author takes you on Alex’s journey in finding not on only himself, but finding out who his son really is, and that he is not just his condition.

You will laugh, smile and feel pride as Alex and Sam each manage to conquer the challenges in front of them Reading this book, you can tell that this is a personal book and it comes across in the writing.

4 star





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