Days of Wonder by Keith Stuart

days of wonderI absolutely adored A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart and I have recommended his work quite often, because it is a great read, but also for its emotional and educational value in regards to the topic of autism and a father seeking a connection to his son.

I was genuinely interested to see of he could bring the same kind of emotional inner turmoil and tug-of-war to the table with Days of Wonder.

The answer to that is yes, but in a completely different way. The focus in Days of Wonder is on the relationship between Tom and his daughter Hannah, however the difference is the connection between them is already there. Instead the author explores the difficulty between father and daughter as she comes of age, with the added tragic factor of a future she may never be part of.

The topic of a child with heart disease is one I found easy to relate to. Being told that your child has joined the inner sanctum and group of children suffering from or affected by a terribly frightening disease, especially when it comes out of the blue, is devastating and incredibly traumatic.

Luckily for my child, who was a guinea pig for a new procedure nearly 25 years ago, the medical world had a solution and she is now a healthy young woman. For Tom and Hannah the reality is a lot more dire. They both know that their time together is limited and on a timer.

Tom decided a long time ago to make every birthday Hannah manages to celebrate an event to remember, and there is no limit to his imagination. I loved the ideas he prepared for his child, especially the fairy parade. What a wonderful memory and experience to give to your child. This is the kind of parent Tom is, but he is also a typical father who has trouble letting his beautiful caged bird fly and experience the world for herself.

Days of Wonder is an ode to the relationships between fathers and daughters. The majority of stories focus on mother and daughter bonds or dysfunctional family relationships, which makes this a refreshing change of tempo and a smorgasbord of emotions.

Stuart manages to change a tragedy into a warm, heartfelt coming-of-age story. He portrays the father as a man willing to go to any length to ensure his daughter experiences each moment to the fullest, even when she decides it is time to cut the cord between them. Kudos to the author for giving Days of Wonder the ending it deserved, and not falling prey to the scenario some readers may want to see, as opposed to the brutal reality it needed.

Keith Stuart offers up his heart, mind and part of his soul, which is part of his style and it’s what makes his books so memorable. He invites the reader to sit down at the table with his characters and become part of the family. At the end of Days of Wonder you may just see the fairies dancing in your garden at night too, and that is the magic Stuart creates.

Buy Days of Wonder at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Published by Little Brown Books Uk 7th June 2018

Follow @keefstuart @LittleBrownUK


Read A Boy Made Of Blocks

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

blocksIt is an exceptional read, perhaps because Stuart doesn’t try to romanticize the subject of autism or the relationships between father and son or wife and husband.

The story is about a father finding a way to connect to his autistic son. In the midst of the breakdown of his marriage and the mind-blowing mediocrity of his job, Alex seems to blame everything on how difficult Sam is.

This is an aspect of the book that I really enjoyed, the authenticity and frank open discussion about having a child on the autism spectrum. The author doesn’t pull any punches either. He describes the frustration, the anger, the guilt and the feelings of inadequacy parents are consumed by. He also gives a clear picture of the inner walls in the education system that often do not have a compass, guidelines or enough trained staff to deal with the intricate difficulties of autism.

A lot of things the author wrote resonated with me, especially on the topic of video games and certainly when it comes to Minecraft. Video games get an awfully bad rap and it seems to be the easy solution to point in their direction when it comes to looking for reasons for bad and excessive behaviour. Yes the majority contain gore, blood, violence, death, bad language and inappropriate behaviour, however there are quite a lot of games that don’t. Minecraft is the video game equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. ‘Come with me and you’ll be, In a world of pure imagination’

When my son first started playing it I just couldn’t understand the appeal. From a graphics point of view it looks very much like the first video games that came out. Dodgy unclear graphics, figures moving like small robots and everything, and I mean everything, is a square or square-shaped.

My son isn’t autistic, but he does hate to read and write. Emerging himself into the creative world of Minecraft has also meant buying books on the subject. His reading and writing improved tenfold, because he was immersed in a subject that interested him. Solving complex puzzles and looking for solutions makes this game a huge brain gym for pint sized humans.

The planning, the creating, having to make logical connections to grow and harvest, and learning while doing it all. All of this makes Minecraft one of the most popular and yet educationally underrated games of the last few decades.

Anyway I digress, my point was I really understood how Alex and Sam connected through the common interest of the game, and that it can be a teaching tool. In fact I think Stuart has been able to describe the relationship between father and son in a very realistic and compassionate way. Obviously his own personal experience with his son have played a huge role in this. Saying that, you have to be really self-aware to be able to analyse a relationship on this level.

It is an emotional read and a very good one.

Buy A Boy Made of Blocks at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @keefstuart @LittleBrownUK


Read Days of Wonder by Keith Stuart