#ABoyMadeOfBlocks by Keith Stuart Mini Review
A boy made of blocks follows the events of Alex's struggles with life. The already difficult job of parenting is made harder by his son, Sam's autism diagnosis and an overly demanding job. Unable to put up with Alex's lack of involvement with Sam, the book begins after his partner Jody has kicked him out of their family home and Alex has gone to live in the flat of his best friend.
As Alex's situation goes gradually from bad to worse, suffering some intense depressive states and being made redundant from his work he eventually begins to pull things back by relating to his son over the video game Minecraft. The blank canvas nature of the video game helps bring out Sam's intelligence and creativity, and he and dad begin to form a closer relationship as they begin gaming together.
The supporting cast of characters from Alex's family and friends to new possible romantic encounters are all colorfully described and events from everyone's lives intertwine and force Alex to adapt and step up, finding new ways to approach existence and becoming a better partner, friend, son and father.
Alex also struggles with the root of his depression; the childhood death of his brother, which he begins to deal with when looking for new schools to help Sam, currently pretty miserable in the school he's in. Through his new found friendship with his son, Alex finds himself dealing with some complex emotions that he's not always sure Sam understands, but who surprises him outright toward the books conclusion.
A story about family struggles with an autistic child was always going to be moving, but the book is embedded in popular culture, making geeky references to video games, scifi, music and movies and it feels like an up to date story. Alex despite his struggles is genuinely likable and I found myself rooting for him throughout the story, and through a few twists and turns (though nothing incredible ground breaking or shocking) the story reaches it's extremely satisfying ending.
Generally well written, with a few breaks between chapters that sometimes caught me off guard (how did we get to here again?!) I very much enjoyed this feel good, emotive and up to date story of Alex's restoration to a functional and happy human being.
The writing style is similar to that of Graeme Simsion, author of the Rosie Project and Rosie Effect and is just as much of a page turner as those two books. Not groundbreaking, but a well crafted and emotional story I can wholly recommend.