I must begin by saying this is the first time I have ever been part of a blog tour, and what a fabulous book to review on my inaugural tour! So without further ado but with an appropriate fanfare lets get this blog tour started.
A Boy Made of Blocks is the story of thirty something Alex and his, 8 year old autistic son Sam.
ALEX, loves his wife Jody, but has forgotten how to show it. He loves his son Sam, but doesn’t understand him. Something has to change. And he needs to start with himself.
TO EIGHT-YEAR-OLD SAM… the world is a puzzle he can’t solve on his own.
When Sam starts to play Minecraft, it opens up a place where Alex and Sam begin to rediscover both themselves and each other… When life starts to tear one family apart, can they put themselves back together, one piece at a time?
At the beginning we meet an exhausted Alex who has just found himself estranged from his wife. Asked to leave the family home he moved in with his single friend Dan, sleeping on his floor on an airbed which regularly deflates; a little like Alex himself). He lives in fear of his son Sam reacting in an extreme way to almost anything. Alex dreads being on his own with Sam. Heregularly makes excuses to avoid looking after him, picking him up from school or anything else which would put him in a situation he can’t control. As we learn more about Alex we realise he is dealing with more than 8 years of exhaustion as a parent with an autistic son, he is living with a past which has come to define and control him. As much as Sam needs to find a way around the complexities of life so does Alex.
Living apart from Sam and Jody gives Alex the motivation he needs to try and find out who Sam really is and in doing so find out who he is. then Sam discovers Minecraft, and their journey begins. A journey which involves visits to parks, coffee shops, a particularly memorable birthday party, London, and camping. All of this is underpinned by, and does not really begin until Alex too enters the world of Minecraft. In doing so he is entering a world which Sam is able to create and express himself in, mostly without fear.
I’ve never been a computer gamer, and my knowledge of all things gaming is extremly rudimentary. In no way at all did that deter from my enjoyment of this novel which it must be said does contains a lots of Minecraft detail. In fact, I think it added to it. I have witnessed my nephews with noses pressed to the screen, lost in the minecraft world, a world which before now I had no understanding of. Now I see. Its a world of creativity and stories and make believe and adventure.
I cannot stress how moved I was by this book. The close relationship which slowly develops between Alex and Sam is just lovely. Sam’s childlike and yet insightful understanding of Alex’s troubled mind is tender and clear. He may not have an extensive vocabulary but he has a mind which understands things uniquley. There are so many pieces of dialogue I could have chosen to illustrate this but I think this extract is particularly touching.
” ‘ Daddy, what are you doing?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Sometimes I am stuck on a thought and I can’t get off it, not for a long time. it stays and stays. Are you stuck on a thought?
I stop walking.
‘Hey’ I say. ‘Yes, I think you’re right. You’re totally right. I am stuck on a thought. Well, I’m stuck on a lot of thoughts. Wow, you’re pretty smart.’ “
I loved Sam and found myself so involved in the story that I shared in Alex’s pleasure at each of Sam’s triumphs and small achievements. I wanted to whoop with joy at each new step he took and weep when he was lost in a world which so overwhelmed him he had to withdraw from it.
So this novel taught me about autism, and the tremendous highs and lows living with it can bring and it taught me about Minecraft. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s open and honest and warm and has things to say we all sometimes need to hear..
” ‘ …we stop at a road, he slips his hand out of mine for a second, then softly pats me on the back.
‘My daddy’ he says
And the moment is so perfect, I feel like the stars will fall upon us”
A boy made of blocks was published on 5th January | Paperback and eBook price £7.99
You can read more about A Boy Made of Blocks and the author Keith Stuart here.