This book was just delightful. A Boy Made of Blocks follows Alex and his son Sam, who has autism, as their relationship develops through their shared love of Minecraft.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the tradition of Nick Hornby and David Nicholls comes a warm and tender novel in which a father and his autistic son connect over the game of Minecraft.
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 must admit when I first started the book I wasn’t too sure I was going to enjoy it. I really didn’t like Alex at all and found him very selfish. However as his character developed, and I learned more about his background, he really started to grow on me. I am so glad I continued reading.
I enjoyed the contrast of how, because of his autism, Sam’s life had to be structured, whereas running parallel, his father’s life was the absolute opposite. Alex’s transformation from impatient and selfish to a fun and caring dad was lovely to read.
This felt like a very modern book. Aside from the references to Minecraft (the descriptions were great), there were a few comical observations that I really appreciated. My partner works in gaming, and one of his games is actually referenced frequently throughout the book, so I really could picture Alex and his friend Dan hanging out playing games and drinking beer.
At the same time I learned a lot. I got further insight into autism which, as the author’s son has autism, I can trust is very accurate. The storyline has a bit of everything thrown in but it never felt unrealistic. Seeing Sam blossom and start to make friends was lovely to read – I really connected with his character and was egging him on all the way through! I highly recommend this book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group for sending me an early version of this book in exchange for an honest review.