Book Review: A Boy Made of Blocks – Keith Stuart

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‘Life is and adventure, not a walk. That’s why it’s difficult’

Meet thirty-something Dad, Alex… He loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. And it needs to start with him. 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 re-discover both themselves, and each other… can one fragmented family put themselves back together, one piece at a time?

I was a sent a copy of this novel to review by Little Brown Books after sending a request for it. That said, I always aim to be fair and objective about anything I receive from both publishers and authors. A Boy made of Blocks is no different.

This novel is one that tugs on the heart strings, Alex is a father that has no idea how to bond with his autistic son, he hides at his job because he’s constantly terrified of messing up. It’s easy, at the beginning, to see Alex in a very negative light, as someone who just leaves his wife stuck at home and puts his head in the sand, but it’s more than that. Stuart has really tried to show the fears that parents have about a diagnosis, the constant struggle that they’re not good enough and the strain that it can have on families. Being open and honest with feelings like this takes away stigma for parents, and Stuart knows it all too well. While he’s clear that the character isn’t his own son, he has used his own experiences.

The bond is truly beautiful, but it’s also about Alex’s journey and Sam’s self-discovery. Not only is the novel well written but has well thought out development of both characters and plot, as well as having a strong subplot. It’s clear that Stuart has a talent for fiction, particularly as his past is primarily in writing non-fiction. The novel doesn’t try and be a how-to guide for parents of children with Autism, nor does it include facts of figures that wouldn’t fit the character, something which other authors have done.

I gave this five stars *****, this really is a heartwarming novel of family and how being ‘normal’ isn’t always the most important thing. I will admit that I didn’t feel that the ending was entirely accurate but that was ok because this is a novel, it’s not a memoir, nor is it even about the authors family. If you want a read about love, family, and self-discovery then this is the novel for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend for a more chilled read.

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