Title: A Boy Made of Blocks
Author: Keith Stuart
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group, UK
I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour for A Boy Made of Blocks! Read on for my review, and check out the other stops on the tour too!
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.
Firstly, I have to say what a fantastic novel! It’s full of interesting and unique characters who I really grew to love as the novel went on. Alex himself is a bit of a tricky one, because as a father he seems like an absolute failure – he avoids spending time with his son, Sam, because Sam’s autism makes him unpredictable and, at times, very hard to handle. His relationship with his wife, Jody (who seems far too good for him and puts up with a lot until now, when she seems to have had enough), is on the rocks and he’s living with his enigmatic, funny friend Dan.
At the beginning of the novel I really felt like Alex was just a selfish, inconsiderate man who should try a lot harder. Then, as the book carried on, I thought more about his situation and thought: how do I know how anyone reacts when they have such a lot more to deal with than (most) other parents? His way of approaching Sam (ie not really approaching him at all unless absolutely forced to) is obviously his coping mechanism, and I feel like it’s unfair on Sam and Jody, but everyone acts in a different way in different situations, and as the novel continues we see Alex’s relationship with Sam blossom and change. It’s such a lovely (though at times hard) story to read, and very moving.
I should point out that none of this is written in an overly soppy, cheesy way – Keith Stuart manages to portray everything from Alex’s point of view in an honest and frank way which feels so real and true. It’s very emotional at times, and you really see inside Alex’s head as you start to understand just how hard things can be for him and Jody, and the struggles they go through trying to raise an Autistic child.
I’m a huge fan of authors such as Nick Hornby and David Nicholls, and A Boy Made of Blocks reminded me of some of their novels in its portrayal of everyday (or everyday for Alex and Jody, anyway) life and its challenges – to families, relationships and everything else too. I hugely, hugely enjoyed this novel and will be recommending it as a novel to a lot of people who I know would really enjoy it.
Also, it really made me want to start playing Minecraft!
Many thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel for an honest and unbiased review.
Tomorrow’s blog tour participants:
Follow the blog tour on Twitter using #MadeofBlocks