crafting bridges instead of walls

Alex is pretty lost. He has a job he hates but that pays the family bills. He has an eight-year-old son with autism. He can't figure out how to help his wife or to make things better. And after years of working long days and weekends to provide a home for his family, he is kicked out of it and finds himself on a friend's leaky air mattress. Could things get worse? 

Of course they could.

Alex loses his job. His wife Jody asks him for help with their son. And he has to watch as his wife finds things that make her happy and help her to blossom again. Meanwhile, he lives on his leaky air mattress and sleeps, cries, plays video games, and watches television. He falls deeper into his depression, hiding from everything he is scared of instead of living his life. 

And then he finds a way to connect with his son Sam. Sam has discovered Minecraft, and it's all he wants to do and all he wants to talk about. So Alex gets the game and some manuals to help him get started, and soon he finds that he has something he can talk to his son about. Slowly, block by block, they start to build a real relationship. 

As you may have already figured out, everything that goes wrong in Alex's life is a blessing in disguise. Getting fired from the job he hated helps him find a job that he loves. Being forced out of his unhappy marriage helps him find the relationship that makes him happy again. And being forced to face his son's autism helps him see his own childhood differently, freeing up a lot of love for him to share with others in his new life. 

A Boy Made of Blocks is about a man who figures out how to build a bridge to his autistic son. But it's more than just that. It's about a man building a bridge back to himself after spending years buried in guilt, shame, and obligations. And it is one of the most moving stories I have read in years. 

Author Keith Stuart wrote this novel based in part on some of his own challenges communicating with his autistic son. He also writes about video games and technology, so he knows what he's writing about. And he writes beautifully.

A Boy Made of Blocks is an exceptionally moving story of family, forgiveness, and finding happiness, and I recommend it to anyone who is struggling with an autistic child, anyone who knows someone struggling with a child who is different in any way, or anyone who is struggling to find more from life. So basically, anyone. And everyone. It's a beautiful book, and it needs to be read and shared. 


Galleys for A Boy Made of Blocks were supplied by St. Martin's Press through, with many thanks.