Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
April 4th 2019
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.
Trigger warnings: Abuse and violence
I can’t handle myself. Seriously. The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews (aka Cait/Paperfury) has broken me. I don’t think I will be able to function properly for a while. Just… why. I knew before getting into this book that I would feel so many emotions, but god damn I was not prepared.
This book is a whirlwind of emotions. From the first moment, I knew my heart was going to break. And it did, so many times. The way that Drews writes is sheer genius. She is able to evoke emotions that you didn’t even consider possible. Her writing style is flawless and so incredibly lyrical. There are so many, and I mean SO many quotable moments within the story, I am going to have trouble sticking to only a few.
I also like the fact that this is an #ownvoices book. The two main brothers in the book, Sam who has an anxiety disorder and Avery who has autism is based on Drews herself. She also handles the topic of abuse delicately and writes about it in a way that isn’t over the top. It really is such a hard subject to write about but Drews was able to handle the subject well.
Standing between puddles of moonlight to steal into a house that isn’t and will never be his, just so he has a place to sleep tonight.
The story follows the Lou brothers, Sam (15) and Avery (17). IT’s Sam’s job to protect Avery from the bullies and the people don’t understand him. When Avery flips out and has a breakdown, it’s Sam that’s there to fix the pieces. People don’t understand Avery and his autism. He’s not a disobedient kid. Sam steals houses for them to live in so they have a place to sleep. Abandoned by their abusive father because he didn’t understand Avery and his autism and hated by their auntie, they run away. This is their normal way of living. Stealing to get by every day.
But after breaking into and sleeping in the house of yellow brick and hope, he realizes he’s not alone. The house belongs to the De Lainey family, and they are an unorganized and messy family. Sam knows he needs to leave, but he somehow gets whisked into their crazy life. He knows it’s wrong wrong wrong. He’s not only stealing houses, but he’s stealing families too. Moxie, a girl who is the same age as him starts taking a liking to Sam, but how can she when he’s nothing but trouble? He needs to protect Avery and steal houses, not live in a fantasy of butterflies and caramel. But all Sam really wants is a house and a family. One that will love him and not shout at him, or hit him.
He doesn’t break into houses because he enjoys stealing. He stalks vacant windows and tricks locks and sleeps in stolen beds because he just wants to be home.
Sam made my heart break so many times. He suffers from an anxiety disorder which is also based on Drews herself. He is a boy who has had to live with looking after his big brother because nobody understands him. Sam has had to live through abuse from his father and watching Avery get beat up from bullies at school. Sam loses it whenever he sees people hurting Avery or people he cares about. He can’t help it. It made me so SAD. I just wanted to feed him brownies and wrap him up in a blanket and tell him it’s okay, you’re loved. It was also so upsetting how he always puts himself down because he doesn’t think he deserves good in his life.
Sam tries to put the pieces of himself together. Tries, with cotton and screws and wishes. But doesn’t he deserve this?
Sam is such a good brother for Avery and even though the way he beats up people who hurt him may not be the best, his loyalty is so beautiful. He loves Avery more than anything and would do anything to make sure he never gets hurt. He does not want to see Avery blank out and become a shell. I also love him and Moxie and how because of her, he starts thinking that good could exist. He is able to see what a family could be like and he knows it is what he wants. It is especially heartwarming when he starts to befriend Moxie and truly thinks he is able to have a friend.
Does he know anyone who doesn’t want him in jail? He needs new friends.
Or any friends.
A non-judgemental dog maybe.
I just love him, okay? Sam is a wonderful character to read about and I feel for him so so much.
Avery is anything but invisible
Avery is a wonderful character to read about as well. I haven’t read too many books that have autism rep, but this book really opened my eyes about how they can be treated. How people use Avery because he doesn’t know better and how people do not understand him. They just think he is misbehaving or overreacting, but it’s far more
‘You. And me,’ he says. ‘We.’
I also felt so strongly about how Avery felt about Sam whenever he would hit someone. Avery hated it whenever Sam would hit people. Because of this, it would remind Avery of their abusive Dad and how he would be hit. It’s just … ugh. I love Avery and I just want to hold him.
Ok, so these people don’t believe in cupboards. They believe in obstacle courses.
Moxie De Lainey is a wonderful human bean. Oh my gosh, I love her. She is super sassy to her brothers and other siblings, but Moxie looks after them too. She struggles a lot with the feeling she is the “Mum” replacement, with the smaller children calling her Mama, but she still looks after them. The relationship between her and Sam is also so heartwarming and makes me insanely happy. How Sam starts to look after Sam and makes sure he has a place to stay. The way she also compares Sam to Goldilocks is also so true.
‘You’re kind of like Goldilocks,’ Moxie says suddenly as the superhero and heroine swoon into each other’s arms on screen amidst an exploding building. ‘But with pancakes instead of porridge.’
‘Goldilocks wasn’t sorry.’
‘But you are.’ It’s not a question.
I also adore how they start to lean on each other when it comes to the struggles they face. Moxie wasn’t looking forward to a summer without her best friend, and Sam would have been stealing more houses had it not been for Moxie. The way they rely on each other is beautiful. The way that Moxie also describes certain parts of Sam is so captivating.
‘I like your eyes,’ she says. ‘They look like infinite blue skies of possibilities.’
I mean COME ON!?! I love her. And I love her with Sam. An absolute wonderful pair.
While Moxie is all sharp edges and papercuts and Jeremy is buttery sweet and warm – Jack is spiky daring and recklessness.
Jeremy and Jack are wonderful to read about. Super boisterous twin brothers who like to mess around with Moxie whenever possible. Even though they like to have a laugh, they do look out for their family and friends. I really enjoyed their friendship with Sam and how even though they didn’t really know him, included him in their activities. They brought him along to the beach and made him pasta and looked after him. I really enjoyed them. I also liked the fact that Jeremy is gay and has a little crush. He gets so flustered and it’s adorable. Very lovely pair of boys.
Grady eats and reads and doesn’t get a single drop on his paperback, which is probably a sign of dark magic.
Grady is literally the boy version of me. Constantly reading and not wanting to be interrupted. I can relate to him on a spiritual level.
Toby is a sweet little boy and I thought he was a super sweet younger brother. Dash is also a super sweet younger sister who loves Elvish things and plays Elvish games.
Sam just … he can’t with adults. They frown, they shout, they hit. Mr. De Lainey seems like the opposite of that, but Sam’s tattooed the caution to his bones. Just in case.
Although the majority of the main characters were children, I felt so much for Mr. De Lainey. He is raising a large number of children himself while trying to provide for them at the same time. Of course, he needs to rely sometimes on the older children to look after the younger ones, he tries his best. The way he interacts with Sam always made my heart so happy. He proves that not all adults just want to shout and hit. Mr. De Lainey is a pillar in society and the most wonderful human bean.
Overall, The Boy Who Steals Houses stole my heart. Literally. I don’t know where it is anymore. Could someone find it for me, please? This book is full of emotion, lovable characters and moments that will make you weep openly. An absolute joy of a read and I strongly recommend this book to everyone!
This book was my most anticipated book for April. I think I may struggle to find another book to top it. Absolutely outstanding!!!!