Monday, 4 July 2016

A Boy Made of Blocks: Keith Stuart review

A Boy Made of Blocks

By Keith Stuart
Rating: 4 Star

I have read several books recently which have featured very human, very flawed, and very complex heroic characters. 

Set in Bristol, the plot of A Boy Made of Blocks starts just as a family is beginning to fall apart. 

Parents Alex and Jody have been struggling to raise their 8 year old son Sam as best they can. Sam has trouble communicating with them, easily flies into rages, and finds the world regularly overwhelms him, all symptoms of his autism. 

The strain of raising Sam, combined with a tragic childhood accident has left Alex unable to cope with a range of situations, unable to express his love to Jody and Sam, and we start the story with Alex moving out of the family house for a trial separation to give him some time to 'sort things out'.

The early plot focuses on Alex's internal and external struggles (jobs, life, responsibilities, friendships). He misses his family, and desperately wants to connect with Sam but doesn't know how. Things all look pretty bleak until... Minecraft and a chance for Alex and Sam to connect in a whole new way.

A Boy Made of Blocks is a lovely story and you can tell that Keith Stuart has put a huge amount of his own story into this novel. You can read about the background to the story on this post he wrote for the Guardian.

The characters are rounded, realistic, and as I mentioned at the start, complex. Stuart's descriptions of the Minecraft adventures that Alex and Sam embark on are wonderfully described, possibly helped by Stuart's work as a games reviewer. 

No prior knowledge of Minecraft is required for this book but you may well find yourself trying it after reading the story.

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart is published on the 1st September 2016.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.