Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Book Review: A Boy Made of Blocks

A Boy Made of Blocks
By Keith Stuart
Published by Sphere
Available in hardback and ebook
Paperback is forthcoming

Inspired by the author's experience with his own son, Keith Stuart's debut novel, A Boy Made of Blocks, tells the moving and funny tale of families, Minecraft and autism. Fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and Little Miss Sunshine will love this book.

Here is the book you need to cheer you up during these long, dark winter evenings.

A Boy Made of Blocks tells the difficulties and struggles that a family with an autistic son face at home, with their relationships with each other, the education system and social occasions. Alex, the protagonist and father feels like he is always walking around, fearing the next meltdown of his son, Sam. They must stick to a routine, and not go off plan. Their life is shrinking, and their world becoming smaller. Everyone lives in fear of Sam getting upset. This is a family on the edge of being teared apart. His wife seems to have control of life and knows how to handle Sam, leaving Alex feeling like he is on the sidelines.

The father and son relationship starts to transform with their love of Minecraft, and their shared adventures, building structures from bricks and going on quests. Sam gains enthusiasm, expands his language, becomes more curious and makes new friends. The connection to the virtual world allows him to become more confident in the real world. While Sam builds a world in Minecraft, carefully caring for his constructions; Alex must rebuild his real world - work on his relationship with his wife and family, and finally left go of a past accident with his brother.

This a coming of age story not only for Sam but for Alex too - he can no longer drift around in life, being a spectator to his family's problems. Along with his family, he must overcome the struggle with the education system to get support and understanding for his son, deal with his past, take action and take control of his career and realise that his family need him.

Stuart creates characters, like Alex, who are not always likeable and just need someone to shout at them to buck up their ideas which to me isn't a bad thing. Characters need to be relatable - does anyone know someone who is completely likeable 100% of the time? I know that several times I wanted to shout at him to pull up his socks because his son needed him. Alex buries his head in the sand with his wife, and with Sam, while waiting for other people to clean up his mess. But when he makes the right decisions then I wanted to shake his hand.

This book deals with the uncertainties that we face in life, and tries to establish stability bringing together the family in a sweet ending. Not only is this a feel good book but it also covers serious themes too. Plus, look at the front cover - so bright and cheerful and we all need some colour on these grey days. So pick up a copy and enjoy today! A Boy Made of Blocks is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy by the publisher.

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