A Boy Made of Blocks – Keith Stuart – Genre – Contemporary
Blurb: Meet thirtysomething dad, Alex
He 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.
Meet eight-year-old Sam
Beautiful, surprising, autistic. To him 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?
A Boy Made of Blocks is a beautiful, funny and heartwarming story of family and love inspired by the author’s own experiences with his son.
My Review: One of my favourite books of last year was Shtum by Jeremy Lester about a father and his autistic son, so I was very excited to read A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart. Not only was this a thoroughly wonderful book following Alex and his autistic son Sam’s journey to connect with each other I also learnt so much about Minecraft which my eldest son was obsessed with for years and I didn’t understand why (to be honest I still don’t but at least I understand Minecraft now). Full of humour and warmth this story tugged at my heartstrings and I even shed a tear (or two).
About the author: Keith Stuart
In 2012 my son Zac was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It was something my wife and I expected – we knew he was different, that he had trouble communicating and was very anxious and reliant on routines – but still, the ramifications felt huge. As a parent, you have all these ambitions and hopes for your children, but when it really comes down to it, you want them to be happy, to be able to share things with them. Sometimes we weren’t sure how we would do that.
But then Zac and his brother and I started playing video games together – especially Minecraft. I have always played games, and since 1995 I have been writing about them, first for specialist magazines like Edge and PC Gamer then, for the last ten years, as games editor for the Guardian. What I didn’t fully understand until Zac came along was how powerful games are as a place to share and be creative together as a family. A Boy Made of Blocks is a story about a dad who wants to communicate with his autistic son; a dad who has forgotten how to play. It’s about how he learns how to do both of those things.
All my career, writing about video games, art, film and music, I’ve been a passionate believer in the transformative power of these experiences. My wife and I met through the grunge music and arty films, and I connected with my sons, but especially with Zac, through games – and especially Minecraft. As a parent, you often find yourself managing what your kids do, but I wanted to write something that said it’s also important to pick up a controller (or a ball, or an action figure) and play. This is a story about letting go, about being a kid – that is how we learned how to talk to Zac. That is how I’ve learned everything important in my life.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeefStuart.