Review: A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart (UK edition)

Title: A Boy Made of Blocks
Author: Keith Stuart
Genre: Contemporary
Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley.
Publisher: Sphere (1st September 2016)
Blurb:

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.

(Blurb taken from Goodreads.com)

Rating: ***** (5 stars)
Review:

A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is Keith Stuart’s debut novel. It tells the story of Alex and his eight-year-old son Alex, who is on the autistic spectrum. Alex’s marriage to Jody has been pushed to the breaking point, and as the book starts he is moving in with his best mate Dan. As Alex works out what this break means for him his son begins playing Minecraft. The game opens up a whole new world for Sam, and presents a place where father and son have the opportunity to learn how to connect with one another. Together they learn that sometimes things must break so you can build something better.

When I got an email from Little, Brown Book Group about this book I was instantly curious; as the father of a child with autism I was curious to see what sort of story Stuart would tell. I can honestly say that I was not disappointed. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is a thoughtful, compelling, and really emotional read not because one of the characters has autism but because Stuart tells a compelling story that just draws you in. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is at its heart the story of a father and son learning how to connect with one another.

Alex narrates the book, and we get to see events unfold from his point of view. I thought he was a compelling narrator, and once I started reading the story just flowed. I really enjoyed following Alex’s journey through the book, and I liked the fact that he made mistakes but he also learnt from them – even if it took him a while. I also really enjoyed the fact that while it’s obvious that Stuart has borrowed elements of the story from his own experience with his son, they don’t define the story, they just enhance it.

The plot of A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is quite complicated, and there is a lot going on within the narrative. It would be easy to say that this book is just about autism, but it’s not. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is about how complicated and confusing life is. It’s about how things change, but also stay the same. It’s about taking chances and trying new things. It’s about parenthood and growing up. And it’s also about not letting the past define us. It’s also about love; both the romantic kind, and the love between a parent and child.

If you want a book that is going to suck you in and tell you a good story then I highly recommend that you add A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS to your to-be-read list. A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is a heart-warming story about a father and son learning to connect with one another, a perfect late summer early autumn read to curl up with.

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