Publication date: September 1, 2016
Genre: Literary Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Review Summary: A sweet story about a father who connects with his autistic son by using the Minecraft game.
Bringing up an autistic child isn’t easy. Alex leaves it all to his wife. So he has no real connection with his 8-year-old son Sam, and his marriage is breaking up under the strain. He moves out to sleep on his best friend’s floor, and from this new life he tries to build some kind of relationship with Sam.
It seems a hopeless task until Sam and Alex discover Minecraft. Sam’s imagination comes to life, and he allows his dad to help him. Slowly, they connect on a level Alex would never have imagined.
A Boy Made Of Blocks Review
This book was inspired by the author’s relationship with his own autistic son, and that makes it both true-to-life and sometimes painful. But it’s also often very funny. Like life, really – painful and funny!
Before they separate, Alex’s wife Jody’s life is dominated by dealing with young Sam, and Alex is working at a mind-numbing job. After the separation, Alex tries to rebuild bridges with both Jody and Sam. The distance helps him to do this, although whether it helps Jody is another question! However, it was great to see a man leaving a marriage physically but not leaving it emotionally. They do work at it.
When Sam discovers Minecraft and begins building things in that virtual world, he needs technical support that Jody has no idea how to give – but Alex does. This gives Sam a reason to value his father and Alex a way to communicate with his son.
The book contains a lot of little episodes in the struggle of living with autism, both for the autistic child and his parents. It all feels very real because we know the author has an autistic son himself. Of course, not all autistic kids are alike, and a lot of books and movies present one (often extreme) example and allow readers/viewers to believe all autistic people are like this – especially by giving the idea that autism always involves some kind of Rainman-like genius. This book doesn’t do this, which is great.
It’s a heart-warming story with a satisfying ending. Everything is neatly concluded – perhaps a little too neatly, but that’s better than leaving a ton of loose ends in my opinion.
Expect to shed tears 🙂