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22gigantes.com - 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 Keith Stuart’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.
Most helpful customer reviews 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful. Replacing Walls With Bridges, One Block at a Time By BeatleBangs1964 Alex is truly a family man who is sad to find himself estranged from his wife Jody at her request. Their 8-year-old son Sam has autism, but fortunately he is at the high functioning end of autism. He is about a breath and a half step away from Asperger's, which is part of the Autism Continuum. Alex loves his son, yet is sad to be shown the door by his wife. He moves in with his happy go lucky, bar hopping friend, Dan. Dan's flat is not suited to accommodate guest, so Alex has to sleep on an atrocious air mattress with more plastic than air.Sam's horrific meltdowns, destructive behavior and rigid adherence to routine have taken a toll on Jody. She insists that Dan take Sam places so she can have some respite. Sam is a very believable character with autism. His repetitive speech; his tendency to cling to routines and repeat the routines as a calming mantra are all plausible and common for people closer to the autism end of the continuum.Over time, a parade of skeletons come marching out of the family closet. Alex has to contend with that painful issue as well as getting Sam settled into a school adapted to his needs. Sam, an avid computer whiz loves the game Minecraft. That game opens mental doors to imagination for Sam and it is through Minecraft that father and son bond. They discover that Minecraft is a metaphorical bridge to communication and to connections. Mental and social connections. Sam gains confidence at his computer proficiency and Dan discovers that Sam has an unfettered imagination and excellent reasoning skills. John Lennon's 1974 "Walls & Bridges" album/CD is a very apt description of Sam's social evolution and the bond he and Dan have forged.John Mellencamp's song "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down" could well underscore this book. 0 of 0 people found the following review helpful. Video games given their due as a facilitator of human connection, other aspects less compelling By Suzanne Amara The best part of this novel, in my eyes, is the descriptions of the world of Minecraft. So many people look down on video games, considering them low-class or childish, but if you read the lyrical descriptions of exploring and building in Minecraft worlds here, and how Alex connects with his son Sam in those worlds, you will see they can be a beautiful thing.The author has a son with autism, and like the narrator of this novel, connected with him through Minecraft. I think I might have liked a direct memoir about their relationship better than this novel based on it. I didn't find the other parts of the novel as compelling as the Minecraft parts---marriage troubles, resolving past family issues, losing and finding a career---there's a lot covered, but it didn't capture me as much as the writing about Sam.I have a daughter with autism. She is far lower functioning than Sam is here, and it's very unlikely she'll ever be able to build in a Minecraft world or do many of the things Sam does, but autism is a broad spectrum. I must admit at times Sam seemed to have insights that would be unlikely in any child with autism, though, as when he observes his father seems stuck in a thought, and explains what being stuck means to him, or when he asks why his aunt lives all over the world and tells her that his father thinks it's because she's scared.My favorite line of the novel is when Alex says that he has realized Sam isn't just something that has happened to him, Alex, but a person in his own right. That's an important moment for any parent of a disabled child, when you realize that your child has their own life, their own self, even if it's very different than your own.If you like video games, or if you have a child with autism, I think you'll find moments to relate to in this novel. 0 of 0 people found the following review helpful. Fine and Authentic By KasaC There is a poignant quality to this book which traces the bonding of a father with his autistic son, since both the author and the publisher have sons with this syndrome. This is the third such book I've read in recent years, and for some reason it is always the father and the son, not the mother writing about either a son or a daughter. There have been fictionalized accounts involving women authors, but none that I've read by a mother whose child has it. In this case, Alex and Jody were very young and new to their marriage when Sam was born, finding their son a challenge but loving him nonetheless. The author who writes about video games for the Guardian uses Minecraft as a catalyst for communication and growth, and how this came about was accidental and fortuitous. Since I don't know anything about such games, looking up Minecraft showed that it is more of an onscreen Lego world, unlike, say, Halo or Grand Theft Auto. See all 5 customer reviews...
"Funny, expertly plotted and written with enormous heart. Readers who enjoyed The Rosie Project will love A Boy Made of BlocksI did." Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project"This is one of those magical books that makes you forget that you are reading. Keith Stuart switches on a light in your mind and illuminates thoughts and ideas that seem to have always been there but were previously unseen. This is an author who understands fatherhood and boyhood and everything in between. A truly beautiful book." Matthew Dicks, author of Memoirs of An Imaginary Friend“A charming and timely tale of learning to connect in the digital age.” Kirkus"A warm-hearted story about a father struggling to connect with his autistic son. You’ll be rooting for Alex as he struggles to relate to his child, eventually finding a way to connect through the unlikeliest of places: the game Minecraft. A Boy Made of Blocks will make you laugh and cry in equal measure; a book you won’t soon forget." Brenda Janowitz, author of The Dinner Party About the Author KEITH STUART is the games editor of the Guardian and a veteran video game journalist who has spent 20 years playing, investigating, and writing about video games and their possibilities. He lives with his family in Somerset, England. A Boy Made of Blocks is his first book.
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