Thursday, 1 September 2016

Keith Stuart

This book is a real joy to read. I can't recommend it highly enough.

A Boy Made of Blocks

My review - 

Sam is eight years old, and autistic. His parents, Alex and Jody, are worn out and driven apart trying to understand him and help him cope with the world. Eventually they enter on a trial separation and Alex moves in with his friend Dan. Alex feels guilt from a childhood incident and this colours his life. All his well-meant interactions with Sam become head-on collisions. Gradually, he finds he can connect with his son through the X-box game of Minecraft. At the beginning of the book we can feel Alex's frustration when his son turns mulish or destructive. He and Sam live in parallel universes, side by side but never connecting. The logical world of Minecraft allows Sam to take on a setting in which he can exert control. Slowly we see Alex begin to trust his own instincts and those of his son and the bleakness he felt earlier in the book resolves itself.

I felt, from a knowledge of several autistic children through my work, that Sam is beautifully and accurately portrayed. I shared Alex’s frustration, too, and Jody’s despair that he would ever come to see her point of view. As a reader, my viewpoint swung slowly, as did Alex’s, and I enjoyed the author’s skill in manipulating my opinions this way. Cleverly done. I enjoyed this book immensely. It manages to contain and contrast huge sadness and great joy. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.

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