Cover Image: The Boy Who Steals Houses

The Boy Who Steals Houses

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Member Reviews

I read this book a while ago, after the author's first one (A Thousand Perfect Notes), and I have to say, this is even better than it! The best parts of this book is both the writing, which is a pleasure to read, and the development of the two main characters, Sam and Avery. I loved reading from Sam's perspective, how broken and desperate he is to fit in and look after Avery, and how he does the best he can so that they can both survive the experiences they have been through. 

The de Laineys were a delight to read - and the family Sam craves and needs. They cared for him, worried about him, but also did not condone some of the decisions he made that hurt him and others around him. The ending of the book may seem ambiguous, because it does not have a happy clear-cut ending, but it is still full of hope for the future (and also made a lot of sense), and I appreciated that.

Overall, a really great novel - works as a standalone, but also has room for another story.
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I cannot believe I hadn’t read this book sooner! The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews is the heartbreaking story of fifteen year old Sammy Lou and his seventeen year old autistic brother Avery. This is the story of family who lets you down, and family you build yourself. This is the story of why being different doesn’t make you broken. This is the story of stealing a home, not a house. A fabulous 4.5 star read. Highly recommended!

* With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital arc of this book forever ago. Unfortunately it archived before I could read it. I’ve since sourced a copy myself and just realised I was still able to leave a review.
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After the brilliance that was 'A Thousand Perfect Notes', I was eager to get my hands on this book. Once you've sold me on accurately depicting how the music-world actually is, you've pretty much got me for life.

'The Boy Who Steals Houses' like Drews' debut, was a heartstrings-puller. One thing that is really difficult to portray in contemporary novels is that deep-angst and frustration that isn't just surface-level problems. Drews always delves into the nitty-gritty of how all of her characters are feeling, and it really does create a stronger bond with the reader.
I've commented on this before, but I really do think that Drews is such a talented writer, and I really think it comes from how much she reads. I mean Holy Tintinnabulation, Batman (I really just wanted to quote that, sorry!), she has read more than any other person I've come across. And the fact that she's one of the best bloggers out there, and her tweets are always going viral says something for how much she practices writing. Needless to say, I am one of Drews' biggest fans!

This book was killer, and I cannot wait until Drews' next book!
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Well shit, what a heartwarming story about a homeless boy, his autistic brother, and the family who kind of accidentally, and then on purpose, takes them in. 

This story is told from both present and past point of views, both from the view point of main character Sam. He is the boy who steals houses. Of course, most of the time, nobody is in them when he does this. 

Unfortunately for him, tired and scared, he ends up in the De Lainey house immediately before a whole bunch of the family, plus friends, all descend upon him. And he just... ends up pretending to be one of the friends. 

The more he gets to know the family, the more he sees that this is the kind of living situation he desperately wants and needs. But he's always aware that his past is rushing to catch up with him, and the Before sections of this novel slowly unravel what it is exactly that he is running from. 

Sam is fiercely protective, foolishly young, street smart through desperation only and just wants the world to stop so that he can get his bearings. He's a different kind of contemporary YA hero, and I enjoyed his story immensely.
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It is honestly not even surprising that Cait’s writing has, again, made me sob. This book was just jam-packed full of emotions and heartfelt-ness that it’s hard to comprehend it properly.

In The Boy Who Steals Houses, we meet the most adorable and love-deserving boy that is Sam. A boy who fiercely loves his brother Avery and just wants to have a home. His character is just so well written with very dark and sensitive flashbacks (there are quite a few trigger warnings in this novel, please be aware).

His personality is endearing and the struggles he’s had to go through are immense for someone his age. He didn’t have the freedom to come into his own independence at around the age he is now but instead, has always been taking care of his older autistic brother. Sam isn’t a bad person but only seems to be able to protect his brother the one way he knows and that’s by being pretty violent to whoever picks on Avery. The juxtaposition of his kind yet flawed personality doing these acts for the opposite reasons to what his father had when he was physically abusing Sam and Avery makes him question whether he really is a good person because he doesn’t know how else to react to defend himself or his brother. This question of morality hits just as hard as seeing these brothers struggle in flashbacks when they were abandoned to their unloving aunt.

Sam and Avery’s relationship are so complex and well-woven into the story. Sam loves Avery and would do anything for him but having to look after him all the time (especially being the younger brother) begs the questions of who’s looking after Sam? Their past trauma and the autistic representation were brilliantly written, especially Sam’s anxiety symptoms.

When Sam accidentally breaks into a house that is still being lived in, we are introduced to the DeLainey’s who are just the classic, almost cheaper by the dozen big, chaotic family. Despite the noise and the constant stream of people, the DeLainey’s; and specifically, the main side characters being a girl Sam’s age named Moxie and her father are the kindest and most charitable people. Their family life might be chaotic, but the busy scenes were so full of hilarious banter and just – love, that made me smile a whole lot. The attention to detail in the writing of these scenes was just plain impressive. Each side character has its own story and is brought to life seamlessly.

While some may have seen the general plot line or event timeline as disorganised, I thought it was perfect because it was quite literally an abstract plot for a character that hasn’t had a simple moment of stability and continuity in his life (rip I know). While Sam and Avery definitely made this story quite dark, painful and hard-hitting, this story was definitely one that also makes you smile, laugh and brings you joy and hope through the gorgeous DeLainey family (YES good people still exist in this world). I personally also loved that the romance in this book wasn’t at the forefront of the story because, unfortunately, love doesn’t cure all – especially not poverty or homelessness or violent past traumas/anxieties.

Overall this story had so much impact and made me very emotional. It made me laugh and cry and although I still prefer A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews, this book was beautiful and perfect, and I really hope I get to read and meet these characters. Highly recommended it to anyone looking to get their heart broken a little.
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Today’s featured book is The Boy Who Steals Houses by C. G. Drews (a.k.a paperfury) and I would like to thank both NetGalley and Hachette Children’s Books, Australia and Orchard Books (the publishers) for providing me with this free e-book in exchange for an honest review. This was my most (and only) anticipated book of 2019 and I was not dissapointed. I couldn’t put it down. Cait broke my heart.  I want to adopt some children. And I’m currently trying to demolish my TBR so I can re-read it in the hope that maybe it won’t be so bad next time.

So what is this book about?
This is a book about brothers, houses and what it means to have a family. Sam and his brother Avery have been abandoned by their immediate and extended family and are looking for a place to call home. Sam finds one, but will it be enough to save him?

What I liked . . .
All the characters – I mean not the mean and nasty secondary ones. But Sam and Moxy and all the De Laineys? I want to go have Sunday lunch at their house.
The setting – apparantly there’s Australian contemporary YA out there, I just can’t seem to find it apart from this one. (On a tangent, please recommend any you’ve loved.)
#ownvoices rep – I don’t have the greatest awareness of mental health issues and I’ve heard that at times representations in novels can be unrealistic and/or problematic. But this helped me to understand more about what autism and anxiety can look like in people. (Although everyone does have their own experience.)

What I didn’t like . . .
Cait breaking my heart – although I kind of expected that so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

My Rating 💭purpose  💭originality  💭engagement  💭writing skill  💭enjoyment
Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5/5

This book was a book that I couldn’t put down. It tore my heart apart but managed to put it back together again by the end. I loved this story about family and the search for a home not just a house. This book was my best of April and so far is in my Top Five for the year and can’t wait to re-read it. If Australian fiction, contemporary YA or #ownvoices are your thing, go buy a copy. You won’t regret it.
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Slow going to get into but once in the story couldn’t put it down.  The characters were authentic and real and each had a way of breaking your heart.
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I have mixed feelings about this book. First off, I like the writing. It's catchy and fits the characters. The plot is okay. The romance didn't pull me in. It wasn't convincing as the sibling relationships. I think Sam and Moxie work better as just friends. While I understand Sam's purpose in life (taking care of his autistic brother Avery), I couldn't believe how it comes off as a burden as if neurodivergent and disabled people have already enough shit from carers, and neurotypical/abled people. I was looking forward to the autistic rep, but I was very disappointed with how Avery is portrayed. He's a burden, an embarrassment, a victim, yet...he has a special talent for something and tries to live his own life but needs rescuing anyway. I've seen these stereotypes all the time. I thought Avery was going to be, well, just a person doing amazing shit.
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Wow did I cry a lot. I mean, it's not that unusual for me to cry reading a book, but oof this book had me wiping my face dry and then somehow crying all over again. I say all this with a whole lotta love, because I adored this book. 

I went into this book cautiously. I mean, I'd heard basically nothing but positive things about C.G. Drews and her writing, and she's Australian (and own voices!!). But I think because of all of this, rather than despite it, I was wary. I wanted so badly to love it, but I didn't want it to leave me going in with big expectations and becoming disappointed. But wow. W o w. I had no reason to be cautious. Her writing sucked me in basically from the first word, and I swear I did not move until I finished the book (save to wipe my face with my sleeve because I cried THAT MUCH). 

Sam and Avery and actually every single character in this book felt so real and rounded and so true to life. I've noticed that about OzYa in particular -- the voices feel so much more authentic, and I'm honestly not sure if it's because Australians are the people I'm surrounded by, and the books are reflecting that, or if our culture is more welcoming to people less polished (less Hollywood). Though, maybe it was just Cait working magic because damn did I become immediately attached to every character we met. 

Sam was soft, even as he tried to harden himself to be what his brother needed. He was flawed, and imperfect and dealing with A LOT but he was such a sweet, lovely kid that I wanted to immediately wrap him up in blankets and feed him soup. Even when he made decisions that made me frustrated, I could understand him and his motivations. I feel like he was a character that could have easily been a stereotype (I mean I've definitely read books from the girl's POV with stereotypes of people that have the experiences that Sam does), but he was nuanced and trying his hardest. Also I -- and this is a weird thing but bear with me -- loved that he cried? I mean I never wanted him to be sad, but I love that that was something that was shown, and he had every reason to cry, honestly. I liked that he was strong and able to cry. 

Avery, I cannot get over. He was a beautiful character. I feel like far too often (at least in the books that I have read) characters with autism are never allowed to be more than that. Or, if they are, the other sides of autism are promptly ignored. They're either the younger, mute brother of a main character who causes trouble, or a highly functioning character who maybe can't get jokes easily, but otherwise doesn't struggle. And I'm in no position to say that either of these are bad, or that they're not realistic (tbh I've no clue!) but that is the only portrayal I see. 

I loved that Avery was far more than that. He had more than his fair share of struggles, he had meltdowns and needed to stim, needed Sam and his familiarity to get through rough patches. But he was also a, you know, person. He was funny and he had dreams and he may not have always been the best brother, but he was trying. I loved seeing the dynamic between the brothers shift and changed, loved that it was flawed and damaged and shifting, but they still cared for each other. 

The DeLainey family I could write a whole other review about. I loved that they were messy and chaotic and struggling in their own ways. The twins instantly captured my heart, I will not lie, Jeremy and Jack are the older brothers we all need in our lives (especially Jeremy, what a boy). I loved the chaos, and the mix of exasperation and love that makes the best sorts of sibling bonds. 

Moxie was gorgeous and a force to be reckoned with and I adoooored her. I find a lot of authors, when a girl has a lot/only brothers tend to make her 'one of the boys', like the whole "I'm not like the other girls... my brothers taught me to be tough" and honestly uuggggggggh. I love that Moxie was pretty much the polar opposite of this, with her fierce feminism and love of designing (and how this came into play with her role with the babies). I loved her relationship with Sam, their chemistry felt so real and natural and I will support them always. 

I don't want to get too much into the plot, because I feel like you really need to kinda let it unfold as it does in the book to really get that emotional plot. I will say that I was incredibly satisfied. I love that there were moments where Cait could have bowed out with a Hollywood wrapping things up nicely and neatly in a bow, ignoring the flaws and actions of characters or their consequences. I loved that she could have dismissed a lot, but she did not. And I liked that it was a satisfying, good ending, where it could have just been a sad, gritty non-ending of an ending. 

I would absolutely recommend this book to basically anyone. It's a really fresh feeling contemporary with a strong voice and even stronger characters. The rep is fantastic and the issues complex, without being too misery-porn in their execution. Bring tissues, but I promise the tears are worth it.
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Take some soft boys, sassy girls, a lot of heartbreak, piles of waffles, and a touch of glitter. Mix it all together and you get…well, pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a book written by Paper Fury. In the best possible way, of course.

Who, What, Where?
Sam and his autistic brother Avery have had it tough – an absent mother, abusive father, and an aunt who kicked them out. Ever since, the brothers have been stealing to get by, but not just wallets and phones. Sam also steals houses. Using his lock picking abilities and powers of observation, Sam’s great at choosing places to hold up in for a couple of days. That is, until the empty house he crashes in one night becomes not so empty the next morning. Enter the De Laineys – the big, crazy, and wonderful family that’s everything Sam’s ever wanted. Mistaken as one of the sibling’s friends, suddenly, he’s hanging out with twins Jeremy and Jack, and daydreaming about spunky, fashion designer Moxie. But Sam knows it can’t last and if they only knew the secrets he’s hiding…

I’m Happy, I’m Sad, I’m a Mess
TBWSH is a bizarre mix of different tones. One minute you’re reading about Avery getting abused and wanting to rip your heart out of your chest it hurts so bad, the next, pure happy, fluffdom hits, such as Moxie showing Sam how to eat waffles properly (*spoiler* with lots of caramel sauce!). I’ve read a few books where these different moods haven’t been integrated very well, leaving you with severe emotional whiplash. However, I can safely say that this is one book in which it just works effortlessly. For something with such dramatic highs and lows, it somehow always feels smooth and natural.

Speaking of these highs and lows, I have to say just how well written they are, especially the sadder ones. There are moments of genuine joy and others that are unexpectedly dark. Both hit you hard in a fantastic (or is it awful?) way.

Can I Join the De Lainey Family?
Just like Sam, I unexpectedly fell in love with the De Lainey family. Some members are more prominent/better developed than others, but I thoroughly enjoyed every scene in which members of them were around. Each person is different and sweet, and it’s very easy to believe a family like them exists out there somewhere. Plus, the banter is so good. I cracked a smile on many occasions during this book – it’s all so easy and amusing, particularly if it involves Jack and his swearing.

Loose Ends
While I enjoyed TBWSH, one of the things that bugged me a little were the few loose ends it finished up with. There’s the issue of some stolen money, a someone who does something to Sam and just disappears, and then, (although it’s still adorable) the sort of open-ended-ness to the ending itself. Yes, I understand I can’t always have all the answers but I’m a curious (aka. nosy) person, okay. I just have to know everyone’s alright! 

Writing Style
Something I was worried about going into this book was the writing style. I love Cait’s photography on Bookstagram, however, I’m only able to read her captions and reviews in small doses. I just find her writing very… energetic? Overwhelming? It’s not about quality, just personal preference. For this reason, I wondered if her books would read like her reviews. The answer is yes, and no. The writing still definitely screams Cait, but it also feels a little calmer somehow. Yet, there are a few choice phrases and similes that I found myself going, ‘huh?’ in response to, or finding a little grating with time. For example:

- “Caseworkers made of black ink and hard lines”
- Their kiss tasted of “salty tears and bloody memories and empty boxes”
- “He can build a bridge of moons and caramel cakes”

Autistic Representation
Not only does TBWSH prominently feature a character with autism but, although this is just one expression on a broad spectrum, the representation here is done very well. Avery’s movements, speech, and behaviours are consistent, realistic and never feel gimmicky or thrown in for extra colour. He’s a well-developed and sympathetic character, and the violence and misunderstanding he faces over the course of the book truly hurt me.

You, Me, We
The relationship between Avery and Sam is great and I love how Cait was able to perfectly depict the complicated emotions associated with having a loved one with a disability. There’s love, a desire to protect them, and feelings of responsibility, but also guilt, frustration and resentment. The novel has some lovely moments between Sam and Avery, and this bond really is the heart of the story. Sam just wants to protect his brother from the world but he can’t, and that’s the worst part.

Other Thoughts
- The book has a great start – it introduces the characters well, has a good degree of tension and really grabs you.
- Moxie is a boss and I only want amazing things and many boxes of caramel chocolates for her.
TBWSH is a sweet but emotional read. If you’re looking for a YA contemporary about belonging, brotherhood, acceptance (and yummy snacks) that’ll break your heart and put it back together again, all in the space of 300 pages, this is the perfect choice.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of the story, as well as the characters and their development. This is unlike anything I’ve ever read and I really like how the author approached the story. I was always captivated by what was happening and never felt like the plot was dragging. Although the plot was fantastic, the characters and their development were definitely shining feature of the book. I’m not sure if anyone else can relate, but sometimes my favourite part of a book is after the character has hit rock bottom and has to build themselves up again. I always find that this is where most of the character development is and makes them more empathetic and relatable. I felt that the author did a fantastic job of this. Overall, I rated this book 5/5.
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The Boy who Steals Houses is the second novel written by Australian author C.G. Drews. It is just as emotional as her first novel, A Thousand Perfect Notes (if you haven’t read it, please do yourself a favour and pick it up), but also focuses on so many other important issues that other authors seem to shy away from. 
The synopsis is as follows:

Can two broken boys find their perfect home?
Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he's ever known. Now Sam's trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he's caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing - each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie. 
But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.

Often it takes me a while to get into a book, but this novel had me captivated from the first few pages. Early on we learn that main character, Sam (Sammy) Lou and his brother Avery are both homeless. While Avery often gets by through couch surfing, Sam goes around breaking into people’s houses, whether they are on holiday or just out for the night, so that he has somewhere safe to stay. He collects the house keys from each house so it gives him a sense of hope that maybe one day he will have somewhere that he can call home. The story is told through both the present day and through a series of flashbacks. The flashbacks retell events which occurred between the boys and various family members over a number of years. The most difficult part I found to deal with was the domestic violence. The domestic violence that both him and Avery were subject to was difficult to read and how Sam in particular was treated by various people within his life was upsetting. Both boys had been through so much in life, they were well overdue for some happiness. Throughout the whole book, all I wanted to do was alleviate some of Sam’s pain. 

One aspect of the book I really thought was well done was the Autism rep. All too often authors shy away from representing people with disabilities in their books but the character of Avery was so well done. The tics, panic attacks, need for routine and things to not change and being naïve are all things commonly associated with Autism and these were all represented in Avery. The one thing which stood out to me was his relationship with his ‘older’ friends and how they took advantage of him. This is all too common of people with Autism as all they want is to feel accepted. I loved seeing the relationship between Avery and Sam develop throughout the novel too. Even though Sam was the little brother, he was so protective of his older brother that he would do anything to ensure that he was safe. This was not only in the present time of the story, but through the flashbacks too. 

While I absolutely loved every aspect of this book, what really stood out to me were the characters, not only Sam and Avery, but each member of the DeLainey family who appear after Sam is discovered in their house. Each DeLainey family member has their own quirks and it was great seeing them develop a relationship with Sam over time. Moxie was certainly a stand out and she was such a fun character to read about as she dared to be different. It was like reading about a regular family from the suburbs and it was so easy to relate to in that sense. I also really liked reading about the other characters who were key to the story, but who had a negative impact upon the main characters (I won’t go into detail as, spoilers). While these characters were awful to Sam and Avery, it was interesting to discover the reasons behind their actions and how these had an impact on the future. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Boy who Steals Houses. While it was an emotional rollercoaster which involved so many themes, ultimately it was the relationship between Sam and Avery which made this book so special. The brotherly bond was critical to the plot and withheld everything that was thrown at them over the years. So will Sam and Avery find a place to call home? You will need to read this beautiful piece of work to find out!

I rated this book: 4 Stars 

The Boy who Steals Houses will be released in Australia on the 9th of April 

Thank you to the publishers, Hachette Australia, for providing me a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I love it when a book comes along, sweeps you off your feet and makes you forget about everything besides just finishing that book. 

I fell in love with Sam and Avery, my heart broke for them over and over. This is such a beautifully written YA novel, but be warned, you will feel ALL the feelings while reading this one 💕😭

Thank you so much NetGalley and Hachette Australia  for providing me with this review copy.
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Am I now a puddle on the floor? Why yes, yes I am.

I have been pumped for this book since reading C.G Drews debut last year, and this book did not disappoint.

Firstly the writing style is really fun, personally I love third person present tense, though I am aware this is not for everybody it just works for me. Though I did have a few issues with the psychic distance which were jarring, it wasn’t too much of an issue, as for the most part, the writing style is addictive. 

Can I give Sam a hug, honestly as a fellow Sam I feel the need to give him the hugest hug and then feed him something. But also so many times I wanted to sit him down and be like stop, this a bad idea when he was about to do something dumb. I did feel like his character was a little inconsistent, sometimes he’d read really young and other times he’d read like he was older than 15. Though I’m unsure if this was purposeful as it could have been, due to Sam’s childhood he could be like that realistically.

I loved the De Lainey’s and want to adopt all of them. I love reading about big somewhat dysfunctional families and Cait did such a good job of portraying big families realistically, it reminded me of my own family.

Also Moxie and Sam were so adorable. I would have liked them to remain just friends, because I think their relationship is a little she saves him and fixes him because their romance, but I’m also not totally mad about.

I also want to mention that this book has own voices autism rep. Personally I thought the representation felt realistic, however, I myself don’t have autism so I’m possibly not the most qualified judge. However I thought it was very respectful and it felt like an important part of the story without becoming, I’m not sure what word I want to use to explain, all I can think of is preachy, but I know that’s not quite the right word.

The pacing for the first two-thirds was constant and flowed well, the story was really easy to dive back into when I’d have to leave it, which is great because I read the majority of this book between classes, or a chapter here and there as a reward for working on assignments.

 However, I got to the last third and basically devoured the rest of it. The end was just intense. I could feel that something bad was going to happen basically the whole book, more and more the closer we got to the climax, but honestly the whole last third I was just like noooo. Honestly Cait why do want to break my heart like that?

 The end of this book is the whole reason I am now a puddle and I need more about these characters, I’m not saying I want a whole book, though if that could be arranged I would be on board, but maybe a short story. 

Overall I really enjoyed The Boy Who Steals Houses and recommend it if you like soft characters making bad life decisions.
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Oh my, this book! I was sobbing in a very unattractive manner by the end.
The Boy Who Steals Houses is a beautifully written story about family, vulnerability and childhood trauma, with a touch of romance and a whole host of flawed, sympathetic characters. It’s definitely raw, and at times gritty and violent, but CG Drews has deftly interwoven the light and the dark into this compelling story.
(Online review to come)
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The Boy Who Steals Houses is an emotionally devastating, heartbreaking YA contemporary. Seriously. Pack tissues. Yet, also in parts funny and with characters who are totally loveable, The Boy Who Steals Houses is sure to steal your heart.

Sammy Lou steals houses. It’s the only way he can stay off the streets each night, look after his older brother and feel some small part of being home, which he craves so much. But when Sammy steals a house that is occupied and is still there when the owners return, Sammy is surprised to find himself swept up in the big, loud and slightly crazy family who lives there. But presented for the first time with everything he has ever wanted, Sammy isn’t sure he can shake his past which is about to catch up with him.

I’ve been a fan of C.G Drew’s reviews for a long time, so when I heard she was turning to writing books, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of her work. While I have yet to read her debut title, I was so pleased to be offered a chance to read and review her second book, The Boy Who Steals Houses. I loved it and admire the beauty with which she writes. And yet. While I was reading this book I did often wonder if its sole purpose was to tear out my heart and destroy my soul, trampling them both into the ground, leaving me desolate and without hope. Sammy had my heart right from page one. His story of abuse and neglect, his resilience and the ways in which he strives to care for his brother is incredibly moving. No detail is spared and the emotions come alive off the page. Thankfully, there are a few lighthearted moments spread throughout the story and a hopeful ending to balance out the sad bits.

Sammy is a complex protagonist. By no means perfect, he has a number of major struggles and bad habits he needs to work on. Positioned inside his head, readers have no choice but to love him (I did). While he is conflicted about the choices he makes, he is good at justifying the bad things he has done and vilifying all the adults in his world (some deservedly so), which raises question of morality and whether the reasons for the crime outweigh the consequences. Sammy is also conflicted about how he feels about his brother. He loves him, protects him, yet also can’t help but resent him at times for the ways in which he cannot reciprocate emotions or the care and protection Sammy needs in return.

I loved the family Sammy falls in with. Loved how loud, caring and busy there were. They bring a bit of much needed hope and light to both the story and Sammy’s world. While they each, and perhaps especially Moxie-who we readers get to know best-have a story to tell, The Boy Who Steals Houses remains solely Sammy’s story and details about Moxie or her family’s grief are never the focus of the book.

The Boy Who Steals Houses is a complex and darkly emotional story about a young boy facing homelessness, abuse, and the consequences of his violent actions and the importance of support, family and belonging.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
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ok when is the sequel

my heart

neeeeed more

thank you for the chance to review this!

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wow what the actual heck, this was so beautiful but I cried literal buckets worth of tears, no joke.

I can barely order my thoughts right now, but here goes my attempt at a review:

🗝️ Sammy and Avery are such precious disasters, I would literally die for them. These poor lil traumatised cinnamon rolls, I LOVE 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭❤️

🗝️ The Delainey family is EVERYTHING they are so beautiful and precious. They also have their scars, but all SUCH BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE 😭😍💖

🗝️ The big family dynamic was done SO WELL it was gorgeous and loud and messy and REAL, but I didn't feel overcrowded by characters at all


🗝️ Boiiii I thought A Thousand Perfect Notes was pain but noooooooooooooooo that book is a field of buttercups and rainbows compared to this 😭

🗝️ But emotional trauma is worth it 10/10 worth it, please drop everything and read this right now!!
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Fifteen-year-old Sam and his older brother Avery have been abandoned by their entire family. All Sam wants to do is protect his brother with autism, and someday own a house of his own that he doesn't have to steal from. One day, he stumbles upon an empty, cluttered house and spends the night. However, the family returns home while he's asleep. When Sam awakes, he blends right in with their chaotic household.

Here, Sam meets and falls in love with Moxie, a bright, lively girl who loves sewing. However, he knows he can't develop a relationship with her or her family; he's stolen from them and lived in their house when they were away.

The Boy Who Steals Houses was a lot different from what I was initially expecting, but I liked it. It's a poignant, emotional read with an unreliable main character. Sam has good intentions for his decisions, but the way he executes them aren't exactly moral. It was interesting to follow a character where you root for them but are also aware that the way he's acting isn't necessarily "good". This book makes you open your heart to Sam. All he wants to do is protect his brother and belong somewhere.

The other characters were well-developed and intriguing. I'm not sure if Avery's autism representation is accurate or respectful, but it felt genuine while reading. However, I won't be speaking out on a topic I'm unknowledgeable on. When we're first introduced to Moxie, I was afraid she'd be a manic pixie dream girl, but I ended up loving her character. She always stood up for herself and went on feminist rants when her brothers were being problematic. In addition, I liked how we were still acquaintances with most of the side characters, even in a family of this magnitude. For example, we know about Jeremy's personality and the fact that he had an ex-boyfriend. It made me feel more present and connected to these characters like I was in the household with them.

P.S. I have a large extended family myself and I loved how realistic the portrayal of all these people coexisting under one roof was. It's a cacophony and a huge mess that never seems to end, but it makes you feel more comfortable and welcomed at the same time.

I liked the writing. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, I just thought some of the similes/metaphors tried too hard to be poetic and didn't make sense. For example, eyes are described as "broken oceans", which isn't exactly a helpful description. Otherwise, the poetic writing perfectly reflected the inner happenings of Sam's mind. It was reminiscent of the writing in Shatter Me. It's never outwardly stated, but Sam definitely has some kind of anxiety. This is excellently presented through repetition and the placement of letters to help portray this to the audience. It was a little quirk that I loved about the writing.

The plot is told through present tense with some flashbacks to "before" when Sam and Avery had a home. These flashbacks all hold a mystery surrounding Sam and something illegal he's committed, causing him to run from the police. When this is finally revealed at the end, it was quite underwhelming. You're kind of left there thinking "that's it?" Not that it doesn't have a huge impact on the story, but it's too predictable. There was plenty of foreshadowing to suggest what would happen, which I'm not critiquing at all. I just wish it was something more shocking. Furthermore, this ends like every other contemporary novel: with much to the imagination. I personally liked the ending, it allows me to hypothesise what will happen with Sam and Avery in the future. It can go terribly, or they can finally achieve what they wanted.

I don't have much else to say about this book. It was great, but it was missing something to give it the full five stars. And I can't quite put my finger on what that was.

The Boy Who Steals Houses is a poignant, moving novel about two broken, abandoned boys trying to find a place to belong, and the younger brother who desperately wants to protect his sibling. It's both a sweet love story between two teenagers with tough pasts and an emotional journey as Sam and Avery find people to call their family. The writing was beautiful in places, but there were some confusing aesthetic features, the characters are multi-faceted and jump off the page, and the romance is adorable. I'd definitely recommend if you're a fan of contemporaries that deal with heartbreaking, realistic issues.
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