I started reading A Boy made of Blocks on the day we all woke up to the horrendous news about the Manchester terrorist attack. I’d intended to read a thriller, but I felt so upset by what had happened in Manchester that I just couldn’t face anything dark and scary, even though thrillers are my absolute favourite books.
So I read A Boy made of Blocks instead. It was a book I was vaguely aware of and had vaguely heard good things about, so I thought it was worth giving it a go.
It is the story of 30-something dad, Alex, who is struggling with work, his relationship with his wife, Jody, and most of all with his autistic son, Sam. Alex just doesn’t understand Sam and is scared to be left alone with him because he can’t cope with his meltdowns. But then they find a place where they can both be together, happy and learn from each other – Minecraft.
The more they play, the closer Alex and Sam become and the more they grow to understand each other.
This is a very moving book, with some emotional back stories, as well as the central story of Alex and Sam’s relationship. It’s safe to say that the ending was almost perfect and I spent the last 40 pages or so in tears.
The story was inspired by the author’s own family life – he too has an autistic son and they were able to connect through Minecraft. So while a work of fiction, it is entirely believable. I have no experience of autism, but I would be interested to know what parents of autistic children, or autistic people themselves, thought of A Boy made of Blocks.
If you like a story about family life and enjoy shedding a few tears when you read, I can highly recommend Keith Stuart’s debut novel.