Title: The Boy Who Steals Houses
Author: C. G. Drews
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group, Orchard Books
Publication Date: 4th April 2019
Can two broken boys find their perfect home? By turns heartbreaking and heartwarming, this is a gorgeously told, powerful story.
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.
I really liked CG Drews’ (@paperfury on bookstagram) debut novel A Thousand Perfect Notes so I was anticipating her latest book with much enthusiasm and The Boy Who Steals Houses definitely did not disappoint. As with her debut it seriously tugs at the heartstrings and will make you genuinely care about the Lou brothers and their incredibly difficult lives.
The Boy Who Steals Houses follows Sammy Lou, an essentially homeless teenager who finds comfort in breaking into empty houses and sort of stealing a sense of home and family for a brief time. He also feels like he must look after and protect his elder brother, Avery, who is autistic in a world that sadly rarely understands him. I thought the portrayal of Avery was dealt with really beautifully and brought to life how autism can affect both the person who has it and the people who love them. It also showed how cruel and ignorant people can be and how damaging the actions of these people are. Sammy’s life is then suddenly vastly changed when the family whose house he is inhabiting return unexpectedly and he manages to slip into their large chaotic family. This family includes Moxie, a fiery teenage girl who is dramatic, passionate and dedicated to her dream of becoming an upcycling fashion designer. I’m actually a costume design student myself so Moxie’s love of sewing was a touch that made me, personally, feel connected to this story. The development of Sammy and Moxie’s relationship was also really lovely and felt so genuine.
There is admittedly a lot of pain in this story and it sometimes felt like Sammy just couldn’t catch a break but there is also so much love and devotion here that The Boy Who Steals Houses never feels overwhelmingly depressing. I was so rooting for these characters to find a way out of the rough hand they’ve been dealt through no fault of their own. Sammy and Avery are victims of violence at the hands of their frankly awful father and also victims of a system that refuses to protect them properly. They are neglected and abandoned but the love they have for each other is the driving force of this book and also what made me fall in love with The Boy Who Steals Houses.
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I received this e-book through Netgalley. My review is my own honest opinion.