A Boy Made of Blocks
Author: Keith Stuart
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Received: from publisher for an honest review
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Adult, Health, Realistic Fiction
Praise for A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS
“Stuart’s debut novel is a charming and timely tale of learning to connect in the digital age.”
“Funny, expertly plotted and written with enormous heart. Readers who enjoyed The Rosie Project will love A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS – I did.”
-Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project
Publisher’s Description and Author Info
As the games editor for the Guardian, Keith Stuart has spent 20 years playing, investigating, and writing about video games and their possibilities. His favorite video game of all time? Minecraft. But not for the reason you might think. Stuart credits Minecraft with helping his son, Zac (who is autistic), find himself.
In his debut novel, A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS – which you will quickly realize was inspired by Stuart’s own life experiences with his son – we meet Alex. Alex is a man who loves his family, but struggles to connect with his eight-year-old autistic son, Sam. He has become increasingly frustrated by Sam’s frequent tantrums and outbursts and the strain has pushed his marriage to Jody to the breaking point. So much so that he decides to pack his bags and move in with his bachelor best friend, Dan. Alex has always struggled to communicate with his son, and worries he never will. When Sam becomes obsessed with the popular video game Minecraft, Alex worries the game will cause Sam to further retreat into himself. But when the two start playing Minecraft together they become closer. Instead of driving him inward, the game does the very opposite and helps in his development. When Sam is encouraged to enter a Minecraft building competition, Alex resolves to take him, despite the huge challenges it represents.
With controller in hand, Sam’s imagination blossoms and the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. The two discover that Sam has much more to offer than they ever thought possible.
A BOY MADE OF BLOCKS is a soulful, tear-jerking, funny, and true-to-life novel about one very special little boy. Through an unlikely medium both father and son find a safe space to talk, share and explore, and come to realize the beauty of differences and the importance of play and how to navigate and make sense of a world filled with obstacles.
About the Author
In 2012, one of Keith Stuart’s two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The ramifications felt huge. But then Stuart and both boys started playing video games together, especially Minecraft. Stuart had always played games and, since 1995, he has been writing about them, first for specialty magazines like Edge and PC Gamer and then, for the past ten years, as the games editor for the Guardian. He lives with his family in Somerset, England.
This book tore me apart with so many feelings. I have a 10 year old son with mild Autism and while there are some differences between him and Sam, there were so many things in this novel that were so familiar to me. My son ADORES Minecraft and could play it all day long if I would let him. He’s built so many worlds and buildings and is so proud of what he creates. When someone talks to him about Minecraft, his eyes light up and off he goes, telling everyone within listening distance about what he creates. While reading A Boy Made of Blocks, I experienced joy, sadness, understanding, amazement, optimism, peacefulness, encouragement, admiration, comfort, fascination, inspiration, and last but not least I’m grateful and thankful for this book and Keith Stuart’s own experiences with his son. Never before have I read about the honest frustrations of a parent trying to do right by their child but feeling so helpless at the same time, described in a way that resonated with me. I tabbed up my book with passages that rang true for my son and I, heartbreaking or funny sections and definitely the triumphs.
Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for sending me this beautiful book and thank you Keith Stuart, for your novel and sharing your and Zac’s personal story.