The Boy Who Steals Houses

The Boy Who Steals Houses
Written by C.G. Drews
Contemporary, Romance, Own Voices, #LoveOZYA
347 Pages
Published April 9th 2019
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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★★★★★
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.
Sammy and Avery Lou are all one another has to rely upon, since their mother walked out and left her only sons in the care of their violent father. Unable to care for Avery who is autistic. Their father never seemingly cared for his sons and dumped them on his sister's doorstep to be raised by their Aunt Karen, who is unsympathetic, neglectful and often cruel. Sammy and Avery Lou ran away from home a little over a year ago and with hungry bellies and no fixed address, the dream of having their own house one day seems further and further out of reach.

The Lou Boys
Fifteen year old Sammy Lou has always been Avery's protector. Against their violent father, schoolyard bullies and those who are ignorant of Avery's needs. Avery is Autistic and requires stability in his life, which isn't something his Aunt Karen is capable of since their father abandoned the boys at his sister's house, their mother also estranged and leaving her two children in the care of their abusive father. If only people took the time to learn about Avery's needs and about the seventeen year old young man who loves to fix cars, who thinks boys are also pretty and who feels fiercely, then Sammy wouldn't need to use his fists.

Now on the run from Aunt Karen and the authorities, Sam wants nothing more than to provide Avery with the stable home he deserves, so while Avery begins work as an apprentice mechanic, often sleeping in the workshop office, Sam breaks into empty and abandoned homes while residents are on holidays, taking items of value to sell in the hopes of one day being able to afford a home of their own. Sam's only possessions of value are the hundreds of keys jangling around in his backpack, souvenirs to remind the fifteen year old what's important, family and home. Desperately clinging onto the dream of one day being worthy of both.

My heart absolutely ached for Sam and Avery. Born into a cycle of abandonment, the boys are victims of family violence, a cycle of which Sam is now trapped. He himself has turned to violence to protect Avery from bullying and ignorance due to being neglected and unheard by the adults who have failed two boys now homeless and stealing to survive. These boys aren't petty criminals, they're simply products of a traumatic environment, of neglect and impoverishment.

The De Lainey Bunch
We're first introduced to the De Lainey family by accident. Sam breaks into their home while they're on holidays but only to discover they've arrived home early. The De Lainey family with their loud booming voices, unabashed laughter and house built from unconditional love. Sam is swept up into their lives and given a plate at their table, assumed to be a friend of one of the De Lainey kids. Except he isn't.

Be prepared to fall in love.

As Sam promises himself just one more day with the De Lainey family before he leaves for his next abandoned home, he finds himself smitten with the brilliantly opinionated and girl power advocate Moxie De Lainey, a whirlwind of bright colours and sunshine. Beneath her tough, take no prisoners exterior lies a girl who just wants to be appreciated and yearns for her mother who was taken by cancer. While her father has enlisted the help of Moxie's brothers on his construction sites during the holidays, the family is barely keeping afloat with a single parent income and medical bills still owing, a painful reminder of their mother taken too soon.

Is This A Kissing Book?
The transition from friendship to tentative romance was lovely. This isn't a romance of dependency or that love will conquer all, Sam and Moxie care for one another and that genuine support and belief allows them to both to face their own issues and grow as individuals. There are no magical wands but real consequences for their actions, such as Sam's criminal history. Too often young adult books tend to gloss over such issues in favour of a happy ending, The Boy Who Steals Houses only proves that a great author can provide readers with both.

It explores societal issues such as poverty, homelessness, bullying, ableism, neglect, abuse and family violence with a careful hand, genuinely and without romanticism. The Boy Who Steals Houses also feels like a very personal and intimate story, especially with an anxiety and autism own voices inclusion. The humour and heartwarming moments were reminiscent of old school John Green, before he tore out your heart or decided to write fifty versions of the same book. The banter and laugh out loud moments are a brilliant inclusion and help unburden the heaviness of the storyline. The De Lainey family reminded me of My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick and I loved the ongoing joke of Jack always being the one overheard swearing, fighting, complaining and being mildly punished by their father while the others laughed at his misfortune. I'm a sucker for a narrative with a reoccurring theme.

Vibrant and genuine characters, a warmth and humour that's become a signature of C. G. Drews, it was utterly beautiful. Now excuse me while I pick up my shattered heart she attempted to tape back together while manically laughing. Again. 

16 comments

  1. I haven't read any of Cait's books yet, but I totally love her as she is a fellow blogger. I'm glad you liked this one so much!

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    1. She's amazing isn't she! I loved A Thousand Perfect Notes but this, The Boy Who Steals Houses is phenomenal.

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  2. This sounds amazing and I've heard nothing but good things about this one.

    I'll have to see if my library has it.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. It's incredible Karen, very old school John Green which I loved! Quirky, laugh out loud funny and absolutely beautiful. I can't recommend it highly enough.

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  3. I need to read this! I really need to read Cait's first book too. I'm so behind on books; it's ridiculous. But these are the type of contemporary novels I LOVE so I'm pretty sure I'm going to adore them both. I'm really glad to hear you liked this one. Beautiful review.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Thanks Lauren and I can't wait to see what you think of them. I loved both but this was more of a feel great read where A Thousand Perfect Notes is quite traumatic. Both discuss realistic and important societal issues such as family violence, neglect, homelessness and ablelism. Avery is a character on the autism spectrum and it's an own voices read. It's such a lovely read Lauren, I hope you can get your hands on a copy soon.

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  4. Wow, I mean, I knew I wanted to read Cait's next book (although... I still need to read the first one) but I didn't realise how much this book would be perfect for me. This sounds like exactly the kind of book I would absolutely love.

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    1. It is! It's very old school John Green and even shades of Jenn Bennett as well. Just that quirky, fun, feel great read but with so much substance. I think you'll absolutely adore it!

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  5. I've keep hearing good things about this author and her books. She's a book blogger, right? I feel like this one will make me really emotional, and I have to be in the right headspace for that.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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    1. She is! She's the little poppet at Paper Fury. The emotional scenes are really well balanced with wonderful characters and laugh out loud moments. I think you'll really enjoy this one and would love to see what you think of it.

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  6. and an attractive cover as well. Cheers

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  7. This sounds so good! I seriously need to check it out at the library.
    Genesis @ Whispering Chapters

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    1. Yes! I'd love to see what you think of it and welcome back to blogging! So great to see you again!

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  8. Excellent review and, wow, this sounds like such an emotional read. Reminds me a little of some of John Green's books that I've read. Can't wait to try this one.

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  9. I love this review Kelly! I will be reading this shortly and I'm so glad that the rep in here is wonderful (as expected). The characters sound hard hitting but warm too.

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