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Review by Suze
Alex and Jody are going through a rough patch in their marriage. They're temporarily separated because Alex isn't mentally present in his own life anymore. His withdrawnness is difficult for Jody. They stopped talking long ago and Alex is always at work. Their son Sam was diagnosed on the autism spectrum and their days with him are often a struggle. Alex doesn't connect with his son at all. While Alex is staying with his best friend he has the chance to figure things out, to discover what went wrong and to work on his problems. He misses home and wants to return. However, before he's ready to do that he needs to truly get to know his son and see how special he is.
A Boy Made of Blocks is a beautiful story about a father who has made a mess of his life by not living it. Jody doesn't want Alex at home any longer and Alex misses her terribly. Even though he doesn't know how to spend time with his son without despair he loves Sam very much. Because Jody has told him to go, Alex starts to comprehend his own feelings and he learns a lot about himself through the gradual improvement of the relationship he has with his son. I was immediately impressed by the in-depth descriptions of Sam's inner world and loved the connection that slowly forms between father and son in a fascinating way.
Sam isn't like most of the other kids at school and has a different view of the world. Keith Stuart manages to show what it's like for Sam to be constantly confronted with rules he doesn't understand. He educates his readers while offering them a fantastic story and I absolutely loved that. It's obvious he knows what he's writing about. Stories like A Boy Made of Blocks are so important, they make people aware and they give people a bit more grip on the subject of autism. The autism spectrum is broad and what both children and adults are dealing with is often misunderstood or underestimated and sometimes even ridiculed. It pains my heart when I see this in my direct surroundings. I hope many people will read A Boy Made of Blocks, so, like me, they can be amazed by the honesty and authenticity of the writer. Keith Stuart expresses his feelings on every part of the subject incredibly well. Reading about the negative reactions of people always makes me really sad, but fortunately there's hope to balance it. A Boy Made of Blocks is moving and while I often had tears in my eyes the story also made me smile. I think it's terrific that I felt so captivated by this novel and I definitely want to read it again.
A Boy Made of Blocks is a book about relationship problems in many forms. Alex and Jody are going through a hard time, Alex doesn't know how to connect with his son, Alex needs to restore the bonds he has with his mother and sister and he needs to work on his friendships. This isn't an easy task, but Alex isn't alone. He has a dear friend who is there for him whenever he needs someone, which is another aspect of the story I thoroughly enjoyed. Eventually Alex both forms and reforms meaningful relationships with people. It was amazing to see him grow, together with his son. A Boy Made of Blocks is an absolute must-read. I was mesmerized by the story and read it in one sitting. I highly recommend this brilliant book.
A Boy Made of Blocks is a book I think everyone should read.
About Keith Stuart
In 2012 one of Keith Stuart's two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The ramifications felt huge. But then Keithand both boys started playing videogames together - especially Minecraft. Keith had always played games and, since 1995, has been writing about them, first for specialist magazines like Edge and PC Gamer then, for the last ten years, as gameseditor for the Guardian. The powerful creative sharing as a family and the blossoming of communication that followed informed his debut novel.