After a couple of weeks wallowing in self pity, getting drunk and generally regressing, Alex pulls himself together. The one thing that had made his son open up recently was a computer game, he'd become obsessed with the world of Minecraft. The Swedish computer game gave his son a chance to create, build and explore, all within the safety of his own home and at his own speed. With a new found desire to genuinely connect with his son, he starts to play that game himself. The game helps him see the world through his sons eyes and not only does he get to know Sam but starts to truly love and appreciate him.
At first it's hard to feel for Alex, a thirty-something man who has managed to avoid the responsibilities a child with autism brings. But as the story unfolds you're given glimpses into a tragic event in his past that has moulded the way he thinks. His history explains some of his actions and as you follow his genuine efforts to change, you warm to him more and more. His efforts don't always run smoothly and his anxiety and stress don't help him become the father he wants to be but he learns from his mistakes and keeps going.
What seeps through every page is an unwavering honesty about the situation. When his fears are selfish or he doubts his sons ability to cope, he admits this openly. Keith Stuart is writing from experience with this story and it shows. Both his own sons are on the autism spectrum and it is the relationship they have through computer games that inspired this novel. It is hugely refreshing to read a novel (or anything mainstream for that matter!) which represents computer games in such a positive light, uniting families instead of diving them.
Both a story of redemption with an unlikely hero and a heart-warming tale that will make you chuckle and tear-up in equal measures, A Boy Made of Blocks is an outstanding debut.
Buy your copy of A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart here.