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A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

9780751563276

The main reason behind Alex’s estrangement with Jody is, his inability to cope with the pressures of being a parent to Sam. “Sam was a beautiful baby. He was always beautiful. He was born with thick brown hair and these big sultry lips- like a tiny incontinent Mick Jagger. Right from the start he was difficult….I realised very quickly there was nothing I could give her to make it easier. This was it. This was life now.”
Written in first person, the idea for A Boy Made of Blocks came from Keith Stuart’s own life. In 2012, one of Keith’s two sons was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Keith writes about video games for a living. His sons’ fascination with Minecraft and how it helped bridge the gap between them, inspired him to write the story of Alex and Sam.
As I started reading, I wasn’t sure who I felt more emphatic towards- Sam, Jody or Alex. There were times when I felt that Alex was self-centred. As a father, he had the choice to leave Sam everyday, leaving his wife at home, catering to Sam’s needs. With a special needs child in the picture, the definition of marriage changed. While Jody and Alex struggled to make sense of their relationship, Alex’s bond with Sam too bore a big question mark.

…Here is an important lesson I learned fairly early on about autism. The 1988 movie Rain Man starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman is NOT a documentary. Autistic children do not all have special powers. If I took Sam to the casino in Bristol, he would not be able to count cards and earn us a small fortune. Instead the noise would terrify him, and he’d end up cowering under the roulette table until security removed me for bringing a child into a casino….

…To Sam, the world is a gigantic engine that needs to function in a certain way, with predictable actions, in order to ensure his safety. Before he can relax, he needs to know the timings and movements of everything around him and he must have one finger on the off button at all times….
The writing style seemed a little disjointed and the present continuos tense irritated me. I wasn’t in a mood for a running commentary. But as the story unfolded, I felt myself connecting with all three protagonists. The heart rending narrative, enunciated the tribulations of parenthood. As the story progressed, Sam opened up his world for his Daddy and “Sam and Daddy’s World” took them on an adventure, that not only healed their relationship, it also helped Sam free himself from the confines of his own mind, and enter a new world.

The book is not a literary marvel. It’s a moving story of a family trying to connect. In the end, it’s all about being there with the children.

A definite read for parents – because the needs of every child are special!!!

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This entry was posted on July 11, 2016 by in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fiction and tagged , , .
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