boy made of blocks

Alex loves his family, and yet he struggles to connect with his eight-year-old autistic son, Sam. The strain has pushed his marriage to the breaking point. So Alex moves in with his merrily irresponsible best friend on the world’s most uncomfortable blow-up bed.

As Alex navigates single life, long-buried family secrets, and part-time fatherhood, his son begins playing Minecraft. Sam’s imagination blossoms and the game opens up a whole new world for father and son to share. Together, they discover that sometimes life must fall apart before you can build a better one.

Inspired by the author’s own relationship with his autistic son, A Boy Made of Blocks is a tear-jerking, funny, and, most, of all true-to-life novel about the power of difference and one very special little boy.

I have reviewed Keith Stuart’s Boy Made of Blocks before – go here if you’d like to read that. In short, it is a heartwarming debut novel about a father’s relationship with his autistic son, and how they rebuild their relationship through Minecraft.

I have to admit, I was initially hesitant to read Boy Made of Blocks because it is not an own voices narrative. Stuart has talked quite a lot about how his son has autism, but, as most of us know, this does not necessarily mean that it is a good representation. (Check out my review of Mockingbird for a narrative that was written by a mother of a child with Asperger’s. It went woefully wrong.)

However, so far, I’ve been pretty impressed with what Stuart has to say. In a recent article, he stated:

“I wanted to portray autism not as a problem but as a different way of looking at the world,” he says. “It’s not a deficiency, it’s an alternative. The way he sees the world is fascinating.”

It is important to note here that I do not have autism. I have been unable to find a review by someone who does have autism, but I will be on the look-out. For now, I’m going to tentatively say that Boy Made of Blocks is pretty good representation.

To finish up for today, here is Rosie King talking about her experiences with autism, as well as that of other children. She has also presented a TedTalk called How autism freed me to be myself, which is definitely also worth a watch. I wonder how much of this was scripted – but it is nice to see an #ownvoices presenter, even if she is only a child.


14 thoughts on “boy made of blocks

  1. Jupiter Brown says:

    Interesting review. I agree that parents don’t always get it right, but based on your review, it seems like the father was respectful. And it’s hopeful that he seems to embrace neurodiversity! Autism and the spectrum are still some of the most misunderstood diagnoses out there. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • whatthelog says:

      In my limited knowledge, I think he did pretty well. I also really liked that gaming was seen as a positive hobby. I get so tired of people saying that gaming leads to violence and stuff like that.


      • Grab the Lapels says:

        My husband doesn’t frequently play Minecraft, but he loves to watch YouTube videos of other people playing Minecraft (which is why I am familiar with the name Captain Sparkles…). There are many challenging aspects about Minecraft, especially when someone modifies the game so it has a built-in challenge that the player has to navigate. Captain Sparkles actually makes sweet bank on playing YouTube. Minecraft is also a game that catches people of all ages, from little kids to adults. I’m not surprised they connected over it. If anyone has Netflix, I also recommend they watch the documentary Aspergers Are Us. Super funny, helped me understand the autism spectrum, and you get to better understand how the parents and guys with Aspergers relate or don’t and why.


      • whatthelog says:

        I quite like watching tutorials about how to play games rather than playing the games themselves – they’re quite soothing.
        Thanks very much – I don’t know whether the documentary is on UK netflix but I will definitely be having a look. Like I’ve said before, neurodiversity is something that I really want to focus on this year.


      • Grab the Lapels says:

        I’ll definitely keep an eye out….have you read any of Jenny Lawson’s books? She has two, and you need to read them in order, in my opinion. The first one is super hilarious, but it’s about anxiety. The second is also about anxiety, but she gets more real about anxiety as a mental health issue and is much more reflective and thoughtful (and also still funny). They’re called Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy.


  2. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Well said, Wendy. I’m just wondering why you don’t consider the author #OwnVoices? In my brain, #OwnVoices makes sense as the main character is struggling to interact with his autistic son. This parallels the author’s experience with autism, which in my mind makes this #OwnVoices. But, I’m certainly willing to better understand.


    • whatthelog says:

      That’s such a wonderful point. I guess I thought of #ownvoices as being the voice of the marginalised person. Like, I wouldn’t call a white character by a white author #ownvoices. Even though it clearly is, the author doesn’t sit in the same bracket of marginalisation and discrimination, if that makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

        So it’s about the author’s relationship to the book and the characters, but this is also about diverse authors sharing experiences from their perspective– the *intent* of the hashtag. I can get behind that. I’m still on the fence about classifying this as #OwnVoices, but that’s part of the fun of the discussion. 🙂


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