Genre: Contemporary Fiction
A heart-warming, refreshing and brutally honest perspective on having a child who is on the autistic spectrum. Stuart has created a relatable and realistic novel which includes multiple setbacks, real-life issues and struggles.
At the beginning it is obvious that Alex, the father, is struggling to relate to his child, going so far as to say sometimes he wishes he could just leave, which is what he does. As a reader you are angry at him but at the same time, from the perspective of having a family member on the spectrum, I could still empathise with his feelings. At times Alex is fearful of his son, unsure how to act, how to look after him and how to make him happy. Although Alex appears to blame Sam for his stress he simultaneously clearly loves his son. I think Stuart portrays this conflict of emotions really well.
Throughout the novel the audience watches Alex stumble through establishing a relationship with his son; trying, and often failing, at finding some common ground to bond with his son. We are able to watch Alex learn to stop retreating and to find some patience and understanding. Ultimately, it is something as simple as a videogame that breaks down the barrier between Alex and Sam. They spend hours together on the videogame, helping each other and creating their own safe haven. This helps Sam with his Autism while also helping his relationship with his father.
I think the brilliance of the ending is that Stuart decides create a happy ending through a monumental heart-warming and moving moment that could have been devastating. [I have deliberately left out details the ending in the hopes that you will read this book and see for yourselves].
Would I Recommend: A definite read for not just parents but everyone, to encourage understanding and to test our abilities for compassion and forgiveness. Or perhaps if you’re just looking for a feel-good, heart-warming story.
*My Copy of the novel has been read by several people now hence the ‘well-read’ appearance*